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The material ^Processed World 
reflecti tbe ideas and fontasies of 
the spedik authors and artists, 
and not necessarily those of other 
contributors, editors or BACAT. 
Processed World is a project of 
the Bay Area Center for Art t 
Technology (BACAT), a non- 
profit, tax-exempt corporation. 
BACAT can be contacted at 1095 
Market St. »209, San Francisco, 
CA94103;P»' or BACAT may 
be phoned at (415) 626-2979 or 
faxed at (415) 626-2685. /^ocessei/ 
World is collectively edited and 
produced. Nobody gets paid 
(except the primer, the post officey 
UPS and the landlord). We wel- 
cooK comments, letters, and sub- 
missions (no originals!). Write us 

at 41 Sutter St. #1829, San 
Francisco, CA 94104. Processed 
World is indexed in the Alter- 
native Press Index. 

Winter/Spring 1992-93 • Issue 30 
ISSN 0735-9381 


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Other Contributors to 
Processed World MO: 

Jennie, Aunt Muriel. Ace Back- 
words, Doug MinkJer, I.E. Nelson. 

Tom Tomorrow, Joven K., 
Angela Bocagc, S. Devaney, Cory 
Pmu, Hugh D'Andrade, Social 
Club, Typesetting Etc., Totally 
Normal, J.F. Batdlier, Solly Malulu, 
Komoilon for the great benefits, 
M.N., Francesca, Med-o, Bret, 
— ' — y others. . . 


After two centuries of na- 
tionhood and four decades of 
cold war and hysterical mili- 
tarism we've become one sick 
society. The military empire 
built officially to combat for- 
eign threats has produced a 
domestic society committed to 
police, prison, and control as 
its solution to social ills. From 
the rapid proliferation of "se- 
curity" jobs to the increasing 
criminalization of ever wider 
groups of people, the militari- 
zation of our daily lives pene- 
trates deeper than ever. 

On April 30, 1992, San Francisco 
underwent an abrupt sea change. Re- 
sponse to the Simi Valley acquittals of 
the cops who beat Rodney King blazed 
across San Francisco too. There had 
been a continuous flow of rumors and 
coffee breaks that day; on May 1st work 
almost ground to a halt while people 
talked about the verdict. Discussion of 
looting led to talk of poverty and 
racism — topics usually off-limits in cor- 
porate America. The late afternoon 
financial district was spookily quiet and 
empty. The public transit system had 
closed early. Bay Area "Rapid" Transit 
had locked its gates to "immobilize 

Confrontations with police erupted 
around the Civic Center and spread 
through downtown. Scattered looting, 
some planned, some random, began 



blocks away from the "political" riot; in 
other places an orgy of looting was in 

By the next day the mood had 
shifted — more fear, more condemna- 
tion, more footage on the violence 
against passers-by in Los Angeles, more 
portrayals of the rebellion as racial 
thuggery. But people were still talking. 
At least some of the racial barriers had 
eroded — black and white people talking 
about race and rebellion! Together! 
There was much excitement about a 
demonstration planned in the Mission 
District (a neighborhood of Latinos, 
Asians, and students) that night. 

The police swept the Mission, netting 
hundreds of people, hauling them off in 
groups large and small, then processing 
them in a pier warehouse. Most were 
released 36 hours later, after being 
hauled to another county and subjected 
to standard prison abuses. It was an 
eye-opening experience for many, a 
civics lesson not included in your "good 
citizen" curriculum; police are petty- 
minded thugs and inept bureaucrats. 
One angry white protester, threatened 
with arrest if he didn't stand on the side- 
walk, screamed back, "This is a fascist 
state!" A young black woman wryly com- 
ments, "Welcome to America, honey." 

Across the bay, Berkeley is in a 
chronic state of alert. Last year the 
University of California renewed its 
25-year assault on People's Park and 
built a swank volleyball court — allegedly 
for the students, but clearly with an eye 
towards removing street people, con- 
certs, and other unwanted disturbances 
to public order. Since then there have 
been many clashes, some sabotage, and 
a little bit of volleyball played in what 
the county sheriff called "the world's 
largest catbox." Police helicopters over- 
head announce confrontations louder 
than the media. Telegraph Avenue, 
judging by its copious plywood barriers 
over windows and squads of riot cops, is 
prepared for low-level insurgency. The 
authorities demonstrate once again that 
a heavy police presence can "maintain 

Recent civil disturbances — a. k. a. "ri- 
ots"— are the steam escaping from the 
pressure cooker of modern urban life, 
^as Vegas (notably), Toronto, New 
:'ork, Seattle, Atlanta, and Washington 
)G have all erupted. In San Francisco 
lere was rage, much of it misdirected, 
lost of it inarticulate, but not blind, 
/hite people did not fear attack at the 
mds of a "wilding" black mob as the 

Pi=M=IEZE55EE] hJJCIF^h_D 3C3 

media would have us believe; anger was 
directed where it belonged, at the cops. 

As the disparity between worlds ("1st" 
and "3rd," rich and poor) grows we will 
"need" more police and jails. "We" will 
explore new dimensions of the national 
security state. "Our" Army, too, may 
find its greatest use at home, even while 
the Pentagon is lusting to be Texas 
Ranger to the world. 

This militarization of everyday life — 
surveillance cameras, new technologies, 
US army raids on marijuana patches, 
loss of basic rights (most notably, 4th 
Amendment protections against search 
and seizure) — affects us all. Fearing 
theft and assault, people become suspi- 
cious of one another. We are driven 
apart when authority is internalized. 
The old joke about "Help the Police: 
Beat Yourself Up" is closer to reality 
than fantasy. Pressure to snitch on 
neighbors, family and co-workers will 
continue: because they have a TV they 
didn't have before the riots, because 
they smoke funny stuff, because they 
have unapproved sexual preferences. 
And at any minute the police may 
arrive. Even the wrong address, or a 
lying call from a vindictive neighbor can 
bring the "innocent" into abrupt — even 
fatal — confrontation with the forces of 
Law 'n' Order. 

The people of Rio know what it is to 
be confronted by such forces; the tanks 
were called out to protect Ecocrats from 
rccility at the recent "summit" confer- 
ence. In addition to soldiers lining 
roads, the government literally swept up 
many of the street children that inhabit 
Rio, who are subject, even in "ordinary" 
times, to death squads. Giving us in- 
sight on the June '92 Earth Summit is 
Jon Christensen and associates, who 
voyaged there carrying PM^ credentials. 
He has also provided reviews of "Books 
that won't save the earth." He and 
Primitivo Morales cross words in an 
exchange on Intellectual Property 
Rights and their utility in the "develop- 
ing" world. 

On a related ecological front we 
interview Judi Bari, long-time labor 
agitator and Earth Firstler in "A Shit 
Raiser Speaks." Those who ponder the 
possibility of death squads in this coun- 
try might consider the vicious bombing 
(and press campaign) directed against 
her and Daryl Cherney, a bombing still 
unsolved but clearly linked to her politi- 
cal activity — as she explains. In addition 
to exploring her current organizing, she 
talks about her time served in the 




regimented factory of the post office. 
"Avon Calling" is a factory Tale of Toil 
which looks at a slightly different role 
that "temps" play in the modern econo- 
my. "God's Work" examines the world 
of paid care for the elderly and resis- 
tance to work abuse in Jeff Kelly's Tale 
of Toil. 

Dehumanizing and pointless work 
(illustrated on our cover by JRS — 
returning from his "Vacation" on issue 
#25) is also analyzed at some length in 
other articles. Chris Carlsson's "What 
Work Matters?" calls for a new ap- 
proach to organizing, moving from an 
attack on traditional unionism to a 
reevaluation of the work being done. He 
also reviews "American Dream," the 
documentary on the '86-'87 Hormel 
strike in Austin, MN. Mickey D's 
review of "The Overworked American" 
also probes the weak points of "labor" 
critiques: which work is worth doing? 
"91 1" gives a fictional (we hope) account 
of how overwork stymies "family val- 
ues." "The Rustbelt Archipelago" (by 
P.M., the author of Bolo-Bolo — see issue 
#17) looks at the reinvention of former 
factory cities, with particular attention 
to the former Soviet Union and "time on 
the job." 

Adam Cornford's "Processed Shit," a 
trenchant dissection of American racism 
and cultural definitions of good and 
bad, reveals that the recent LA riots are 
not some isolated event, but part of our 
legacy. The "Martian View of Looting" 
lightheartedly looks at consumerism, 
work and deprivation. In "Thrifters: 
Second Hand Shit," Marina Lazzara 
takes us into a surreal Sunday sidewalk 

Iguana Mente's "Confessions of a 
Sperm Donor" recounts one of the more 
curious jobs we've reported on. D.S. 
Black proffers a double-fistful of reviews 

of sex magazines. Our "Downtime" 
section introduces the Time Thieves 
Corner, and more. Our excellent let- 
ters—thanks all you writers — offer a 
glimpse of the connections percolating 
out there. Also from our mailbox is a 
paean from The Chicago Surrealists 
Group to the recent Chicago floods. An 
expanded section of poetry utilizes di- 
verse styles in exploring equally diverse 
topics, ranging from old women to 
People's Park to the office — and beyond. 
And Primitivo drags the Old Crow into 
the (almost) 21st century in his parodic 
"The Ravin'." 

Thanks to the great response by 
readers to our pleas and improved 
circulation at the newsstand, PW is 
almost not broke! Note our increased 
size — a direct reflection of the wealth of 
printed material we have received. 
Many thanks to adl who contributed to 
this issue through work, money, word- 
of-mouth, or general subversion! We 
couldn't do it without ya! 

It looks like "Education" is happenin' 
in our next issue . . . we've got a number 
of educational articles and short stories, 
and are hoping for more analyses and 
Tales of Toil . . . Write to Processed World, 
41 Sutter St #1829, SF, CA, 94104 Fax 
us at (415) 626-2685 E-Mail us at Future issues 
might also include Voluntarism and the 
Service Economy; The 21st Century: A 
Two-Tiered Future; Millennial Blues; 
the Urban Utopia — what kind of city 
would we like to live in? What changes 
would we make? Past topics are still very 
much alive — comments, rebuttals and 
new explorations of sex, biotech, exile, 
"The Good Job," etc., are all welcome. 
Write! Draw! Enjoy! 

— Primitivo Morales, et. al. 



Dear Editors: 

I am only in the middle of my second issue of 
Processed World. Oh how I wish I had foimd your 
magazine earlier! Maybe I could have escaped my 
materialistic consumerism-driven middle class (max- 
ed out on my credit cards) existence a little earlier. 
But to do what? I hungrily devour everything in your 
magazine, but all it does is come back up in a kind of 
wet burp- I've read the letters from people of my 
generation— yes we're all aimless, seemingly apathe- 
tic, brain dead from years of watching the Brady 
Bunch and thinking life's problems would always be 
solved by mom and dad's neat little catch-all phrases 
(Mom always said, "don't play ball in the house!"). 
We should have known better— I mean, did you ever 
see Mike or Carol Brady actually working at 
anything? Of course they were good parents, not hke 
our own that slaved away to provide us with our 
Barbie Dolls and our G.I. Joes, then took their 
work frustrations out on us without realizing that 
Barbie Dolls didn't spiritually satisfy us, anyway 
(they were too busy thinking the swimming pool in 
the backyard and the station wagon in the driveway 
would make them happy). All of this throbbing 
pulsating energy, all of this dissatisfaction just eating 
away at our insides — can't we channel it somehow? 
Are we that impotent or have we just been 
brainwashed by the powers that be to believe we are? 
The government wants to get rid of radical art, 
eradicate mind-expanding drugs, abolish anything 
that will actually make us more aware and wake us 
up to how we're being screwed, but the question is: 
Will anything wake us up? 

Let's look at L.A. and the recent riots. All of the 
pent-up frustrations, the anger, the fear that these 
people have been living with, the disempowerment 
they've had to deal with erupted with one foul swoop 
of an unjust verdict. But instead of channeling that 
anger towards the people and institutions that 
deserve it, the rioters and looters destroyed their own 
community! I bet Buchanan, Bush and the fascists 
that run our country got a big chuckle over that one. 
For years they've been allowing guns and crack to 
circulate freely through big city minority communi- 
ties, just waiting for them to wipe themselves out. 
now they make a token effort by pouring money, 
ever the capitalists' solution, on the problem. You 
can't buy self-esteem. The children of the middle 
class learned that lesson the hard way. A very wise 
friend of mine believes L.A. was just the foreshad- 
owing of a future civil/race war. To me, that would 
be a misdirected revolution! How would those of us 
who are white and therefore represent the power 
structure let the other side know, "Hey! We're with 
you\" Any full-scale revolt needs to be organized 

and with full cooperation of blacks and whites, rich 
and poor, anyone who's sick and tired of what our 
system has become (and don't fool yourself into 
thinking a vote for Ross Perot is truly an attempt to 
overhaul the system!). 

This country is a powder keg ready to erupt, and I 
am ready for it. It can't happen soon enough for me. 
I've been watching the events in Eastern Europe, 
wondering why it can't happen here. Citizens sat 
back for too long while their leaders ran amuck, 
oppressing them by instituting controls over every- 
thing they saw, said, did, heard, while at the same 
time bestowing special favors on themselves (look at 
the Congressional check kiting scandal) and breeding 
corruption (see Contragate, the S&Ls, BCCI, 
Clarence Thomas hearings) JUST AS OUR OWN 
corrupt Communist governments got their comeup- 
pance. Just because we live in a so-called "Democra- 
cy" don't think "It can't happen here." I'm hoping 
that Processed World can go further than you do 
now (and I know this is an awesome responsibility 
for one publication to bear— /no kidding!— eds.]) 
and help organize the revolt when/if it comes. 
Grumbling about your crappy jobs and the state of 
our society is fine, but when push comes to shove 
you'd better be ready to make a change. 

I just quit my job last Friday. I spent a year (any 
more and I would have been brain dead) working for 
a big business trade association, doing things like 
xeroxing memos to business owners telling them why 
they needed to support the styrofoam industry (never 
mind that if the environment goes, we all go with it, 
and then where will you relocate your business? To 
the moon, maybe?) and lobby against national health 
care, etc. At first I thought it didn't matter that I 
didn't believe in anything my employer represented, 
but the constant stomach aches, headaches, and depres- 
sion I felt told me otherwise. Your job can be 
detrimental to your health— I'm living proof. I'm not 
sure what I'll do now but I do know I've never felt 
better in my life. 

I almost didn't write this letter. I had to overcome 
the fear that now the FBI will put my name in some 
kind of "radical" file and when they implement the 
internment of radical thinkers (like some kind of 
Soviet gulag), I'll be the first to go. But I've realized 
that that kind of fear will accomplish nothing. 1 say, 
more power to Processed World and its readers— go 
forth without fear, my children. 

S.W.— Richmond, Virginia 


Dear Process Worid(ers), 

I've been impressed by several back issues which a 
friend lent to me. One of the most interesting and 

heartening features oiPW is the letters page: it's so 
good to see that there are people out there trying to 
fuck over "the system." I thought I might add a new 
voice to the saboteurs' chorus. 

I moved to the U.S. from Liverpool, England in 
1987, after spending most of my time since leaving 
school in dead-end jobs: factories, clerical etc. In 
1990 I returned to Britain for a few months, 
reluctantly in search of a job. All I could find was a 
temp job sending out the first Poll Tax bills. Along 
with about ten other people I was expected to take 
addresses and ID numbers off a computer printout, 
and copy it onto the forms which would then be sent 
to the victims. The recipients of the forms were 
advised to quote the ID number in future correspon- 
dence. I happily spent seven hours a day writing the 
wrong numbers on all of the forms whilst getting 
paid. Toward the end of the contract I went for a few 
drinks with some of my co-workers, and discovered 
that they had been doing the same thing. Our 
combined efforts must have created about 50,000 
future problems for the poll tax system. This one 
could run and run...! 

I'm now back in the U.S. and trying to destabilize 

Yours frater(mi)nally, 

M.L.— Lewiston, Maine 



What a delightful magazine! From it I discovered 
how un-unique I am. It seems I've stumbled into a 
beehive of malcontents, that is, frustrated artists and 
intellectuals. What a treat! Bohemia is alive and well, 
though processed through the postal system. 

I'm a blue-collar worker by accident. After 
attending a college prep school, with four years of 
Latin, French, and English, I wanted to be an 
interpreter. After a couple years in college, I joined 
the navy with the hopes of more schooling and 
eventual duty hobnobbing in global circles as a 
translator. Instead they decided I'd make a better 
electrician, and, 26 years later, I'm still an 
electrician. However, I'm a high prole, or as Paul 
Fussel described us in Class: "...they're not 
consumed with worry about choosing the correct 
status emblems, these people can be remarkably 
relaxed and unself-conscious. They can do, say, 
wear, and look like pretty much anything they want 
without undue feelings of shame, which belongs to 
their betters, the middle class, shame being largely a 
bourgeois feeling." 

As a master construction electrician, I have certain 
liberties not found with lower proles and middle 
class, namely, I don't have a supervisor. I supervise 
myself. Nor do I go to the same building every day 
and punch a clock. I wire buildings and leave when 
I'm done. Two years ago, for instance, after wiring a 
district educational building for neariy a year, I left 
for Eastern Europe for a month. 

I get no benefits, such as medical insurance, sick 
days, paid vacation and the like. Instead they 
begrudgingly pay me $27.09 an hour. On the other 
hand, I tell the boss for how long and when I'm 
going on vacation. Sometimes I don't show up for 
work; maybe it's simply too cold outside, or perhaps 
I have a bad hangover. I never use an alarm clock. 
For eight years, from 9- to 17-years-old, I delivered 
the Chicago Tribune at the beck and call of an alarm 






clock. In snow, sleet, and darkness, I delivered like 
clockwork. I promised myself that when I became an 
adult I'd never use an alarm clock, and I don't. If 
I'm late for work, I readily explain that my body 
refused to wake up at the anointed hour, sorry. They 
get used to it in a short time. They learn that I'll 
show up, eventually. 

More importantly, however, is not what I do, but 
rather where I've been and what I've seen. My work 
has not only taken me into the homes and offices of 
every strata of American society, I have also 
witnessed first-hand the daily bowel movement of 
America, the sewage treatment plant. And then 
there's work that I simply refuse to do, wire a house 
for a wealthy person, for example. I find wealthy 
people obnoxious and consumed with conspicuous 
gluttony. To install a $5,000 fixture from the 20 foot 
ceiling in the entry of some lawyer's palatial 
mansion, while poor people fill the jails, goes against 
my grain. The incarcerated paid for that dangling 
brass and crystal with 60 some flickering candle-like 
bulbs (the bulbs alone are over $300). Of course 
there's also the hot tub, pool, sauna, and the dumb 
waiter to carry firewood to the second and third floor 
fireplaces, to name but a few of the luxuries. 

Interestingly, in the past year, I've seen the inside 

just babysitters. Most of these guys are harmless 
drunks and drug users." 

Yours Truly, 

J.A.— Portiand, Oregon 


To Whom It May Concern: 

Please cancel my subscription to Processed 
World. Your magazine has a good premise- 
alienation— but the execution falls short. It's the 
Revenge idea that bothers me. I'm experienced 
enough to know that in revenge, make sure the 
screwing that you give is worth the screwing that you 
will inevitably get. 

It's hard to be optimistic in modem society- 
managers that don't, friends that aren't, take-home 
pay that can't, but JESUS why make it worse? If you 
hate that job so badly, quit. If your boss is a jerk, 
welcome to the club. 

Your 'zine shows a lot of talent. Too bad it's hard 
to see it through all the weird, existentialist whining 
about wage-slavery. 


C.H.— Aspen, Colorado 


Processed Dudes— 

You guys & gals are so great— you've been such an 
inspiration to me. I'd never have survived my 
dead-end job at the University of California without 
your moral support. 

During the dull hours— the especially dull hours 
—I cranked out propaganda, such as the sticker 
[reprinted below]. I then used UC's campus mail 
system to send them to Regents, university presi- 
dents, cafeteria dishwashers, and executive secretar- 
ies. For a while they sprouted like beautiful weeds on 
campuses from San Diego to L.A. & beyond. 

Keep it up! 

R.F.— Berkeley, Caiifornia 

of the jail as both an inmate (ten days for drunk 
driving), and as an electrician wiring a new guard 
station within the laundry facilities. The contrasting 
viewponts exhibit a vivid portrait of class distinction. 
There were no lawyers, doctors, accountants, or 
advertising executives in jail. I was processed through 
the system with other drunk drivers— overwhelmingly 
blue collar workers— and drug dealers. We're 
considered the scum of society and treated as such. 
The guards, or corrertion officers as they like to call 
themselves, display tyrannical attitudes and enforce 
petty rules, such as proper bed-making, with the 
utmost seriousness. 

To enforce their rules, there are a half dozen jails 
in town, each one worse than the next. The already 
bad food gets worse as does the confinement and 
rules. People who consistently violate the rules are 
sent down the ladder till eventually they're in solitary 
confinement with little more than bread and water. 

A few months later, as an electrician going to jail 
every day to do construction, the view was much 
different. Instead of inside looking up, now I was 
outside looking down. The guards, no longer masters 
of my destiny, became bottom of the barrel unskilled 
proletarians. As one guard told me after I asked him 
if he experienced much inmate trouble, "Naw, we're 



I just picked \ipPlV and I really want you to know 
how much I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, my partner 
and I are truly "UP AGAINST IT." I spent most of 
yesterday agonizing about whether to engage our 
family in the teeth of federal and state bureaucracy 


and apply for aid at Social Services. We don't want 
"aid," we wantyote, but. . .oh hell. 

After reading several of the articles in PW, I 
noticed that I was feeling things I hadn't felt since 
High School! There was an idealism about changing 
our society that existed within me when I was much 
younger, and I guess I've lost it along the way 
without even realizing it. (Scary!) So I stand in your 
debt for turning my consciousness upside down and 
backwards (towards my own past) although I can't 
say yet where this might lead. Survival presses and 
leaves little room for any thought or feeling about the 
Bigger Picture, at least for now. 

My favorite PfV item remains Tom Tomorrow 
cartoons, especially the one on page 38 (#29), with 
the guy's watch beeping. I laugh, but it hurts. 

Anyway, here's to the future, however dark, and 
thanks again for allowing me to plug into PW. I 
applaud your efforts. 

Faye Manning— Springfield, OR 
P.S. If 75% of PfV's budget comes from subscrip- 
tions, where does the 25% come fTomll /distributor/ 
bookstore sales, the occasional donation and 
loan— Many thanks to the 5 people who recently 
bought $150 lifetime subscriptions. It made a big 
difference in financing this issue— eds.J 


from Adbusters Quarterly. 1243 W. 7th Ave., 
Vancouver, B.C. V6H 1B7 Canada. 
The liquor company threatened to sue for this 
subversion of their advertising campaign, but 
has not done so as yet. 

RESPONSIBILITY. . .A Winning Solution 

Yo, Fellow PoMo Proles! 

I came aciois Bad Attitude: The Processed World 
Anthology while browsing in a local alternative 
bookstore. I knew instantly that it was some kind of 
chop-busting satirical masterpiece, cast in the blithe 
spirit of the Church of Bob. But it took me a couple 
of leavings and retumings before I finally got a fix on 
your politics, and it all made sense. 

A week later, I heard an editor interviewed on the 
radio. That interview nailed it. I took a deep breath, 
coughed up the $20, and reeled in this queer fish, still 
heaving and panting on the deck. I've discovered that 
as long as I store it in the freezer, I don't have to 

continue holding my breath! 

But seriously... thanks for one of the most 
uproarious and xeroxable fonts of wit, wisdom, 
mayhem, mischief and subversion that I've ever 
blundered upon by happy happenstance. You might 
be curious to know something about my situation 
(Tough tuna. . .I'll tell you anyway!): 

I have two college degrees, including a graduate 
degree in literature from Yale, and I spent the last 
twelve years working as a professional typesetter and 
freelance writer. 15 months ago, my full-time paying 
gig with a once-pohtically-alteraative newspaper, 
where ten years ago we used to smoke pot on lunch 
break, but which now supports itself by running 
pages of phone sex ads, finally fell apart. I spent the 
following year trying to get a simple clerical position, 
preferably at one of the five colleges here in 
depression-wracked western Massachusetts. 

With two college degrees, 100 wpm typing, high 
computer literacy, and 12 years full-time office 
experience, I was nevertheless LITERALLY UNA- 
ER— for 15 months. We're talking about hundreds 
of custom tailored resumes filed, with about six 
interviews actually obtained for all that wasted effort. 

My most memorable interview was with the lady 
who runs the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds. 
She had advertised for what amounted to a 
"gofer/photocopier" position. Embarrassed, she 
held up a huge stack of more than a hundred 

"I really felt I owed you an interview," she said. 
"But I'm embarrassed to be talking to you." Almost 
all of the applications in her stack were from college 
graduates. A minority were from starving Ph.D.s, 
clamoring to become gofers in the photocopy room. 

Needless to say, this profoundly harrowing and 
sobering experience has re-colored my political 
complexion from PC pink to deep burning red. I am 
furious as hell about the way we're all being pushed 
and shoved and drawn and quartered by the 
leverage-driven corporate restructuring of our planet. 
If I believed in the death penalty, I would have no 
trouble arguing that Ronald Reagan ought to be shot 
for high treason. 

Just to provide some closure on my personal 
Odyssey, I was rescued from the brink of ruin at the 
last possible minute. I managed to land a job as an 
administrative paralegal, for an attorney who 
specializes in transportation law, with a large 
national client base. It's all civil and contract law, 
it's a completely clean practice, and the dude himself 
is a distinguished old school gentleman with a 
GREAT attitude toward his three paralegals. It's 
more like a family office than an adversarial 
battlefield. There is absolutely no backstabbing 
politics going on among the staff, and we even have 
paid medical insurance and profit sharing! 

So I lucked out. My humanist background, Yale 
degree and exceptional computer skills put me on top 
of this particular stack. But it still took 15 months 
for me to get there. And the year I spent pounding 
the streets among the jobless has permanently 
changed my life. It's not only deepened my 
compassion for the folks who are getting screwed to 
death out there, but it's given me a new resolve to try 
to DO something about it, to the best of my ability. 

There is the further telling irony that at a point in 
my life cycle when a typical Yale grad should be 
making a salary in at least the 50 to 60K range, I'm 

celebrating my ability to land what amounts to an 
entry level position in a new field, at a salary level 
(20K) which would be considered low end for a 
BRAND NEW college graduate with no work 

Still, a lot of people would kill for the relatively 
modest job I finally managed to land. I mean, shit, 
in the crumbling cities, people kill for SNEAKERS 
and JACKETS— never mind what they'd do for a 

Into this challenging frame of reference in my life, 
your book suddenly drops, like a sinister angel 
appearing on my left shoulder. And it sets me to 
thinking about the degree to which your political 
message pertains, or does not, in these horribly 
depressed times. 

Although I enjoyed your book immensely, it also 
bemuses me. In the office where I work now. Bad 
Attitude makes no sense. When you're treated with 
genuine decency and respect, and as a valued 
member of a team effort, what possible incentive can 
there be to sabotage this feeling of trust? 

Am I going to blame this attorney for the fact that 
I'm only making 20K, when I should be making 60? 
Hell no. I made a choice to bypass the high-pressure 
career track, and opt for a human-sized lifestyle, 
many years ago. I stand by my decision, even though 
the upturned corporate economy of the New World 
Order (didn't Hitler call it "Mein Karapf?") now 
makes it likely that I will end up penniless and bereft 
of support in my old age. 

I'm certainly not the only one though. Just wait 
until all the hell-on-wheels poUtical activists of the 
'60s reach retirement age, and discover how badly 
they're being screwed and shoved around by their 
government. I predict here and now that we wiD see a 
sudden wrathful last-burst-of-glory rekindling of 
their youthful social agitation, activism, and organi- 
zational savvy, turned against an entirely new set of 
social grievances in the year 2010. Count on it! The 
baby boomers are not about to trudge meekly down 
the path of impecunious oblivion plotted for them by 
the junk bond bandits who looted our treasury. 
There will be blood in the streets when they find 
themselves 65 and starving. 

Finally, from my own office experience, past and 
present, I think I can say that the impulse to assume 
Bad Attitude lies not in the inherent nature of 
process work itself, but in the particular quality of 
one's human relationships with both employers and 

What I hear again and again, as I read through 
Bad Attitude, is the degree to which the contributing 
workers are treated abominably by fellow humans, 
who insist on acting as though they were robotic 
agents of some extraterrestrial force. The problem of 
alienation is not inherent with the new technology. 
The problem is inherent with human beings who have 
simply forgotten how to ACT like human beings— if 
they even learned that human role as children in the 
first place. 

Human beings at their best are irreverent, 
humorous and caring, as well as justly proud of their 
natural competence, and hungry for a community of 
mutual support. When any or all of these tendencies 
are crushed by the debased nature of an employment 
situation, that situation becomes diabolical. And if 
Bad Attitude is the most natural, gut-gratifying 
response, I hardly think it's the most fulfilling or 
productive approach to making this planet human 


and whole again. 

I do find it at once supremely ironic, and 
supremely hopeful, that so many of your contribu- 
tors who find themselves stuck in "dead-end" or 
"meaningless" jobs turn out to be such gifted and 
eloquent writers, in so many different genres— from 
acute political analysis to side-splitting, pants-wetting 
comedy! It's clear that your contributors are not 
bubble-gum-snapping functional illiterates, conde- 
mned by paucity of wit or genetic endowment to a life 
of minimum wage slavery. There is just an 
ENORMOUS pool of creative talent in this nation, 
begging to be put to work on a worthy human 

It seems as though we're waiting for the 
charismatic leadership we badly need to turn this 
American community around. We are all leaders, of 
course. As a devout Buddhist myself, as well as a 
humanist-oriented bisexual man, I might find it 
somewhat easier than a Marxist ideologue to see the 
lurking potential for human personhood in even the 
most mind-numbed bureaucratic buttfuck, if one can 
just locate the resonant frequency where his or her 
humanity can be accessed. 

I'd say your book is a clarion call to our troubled 
humanity, sounding an alarm on all known hailing 
frequencies! I'm glad I found you. And I'm glad I 
finally found a job that put the 20 bucks in my 
pocket, which I could spend on such a guilty and 
unjustifiable piece of discretionary pleasure, in these 
depressed and starving times. 

Bad Attitude, of course, would prompt a bitter 
prole to "Steal This Book." And how, pray tell, 
would you folks feel about being ripped off like that, 
considering what you invested to write and publish 
Ml [Well, we're more interested in people reading it 
than paying for it, if we have to choose— eds.J 

You see, that's my point. Bad Attitude solves 
nothing in the long run. Responsibility for each 
other, and for the consequences of our actions, and 
for the quality of our commitments, has got to be the 
winning solution that brings us home to our 

In the meantime, and on your own terms, you're 
one of the best reads I've encountered in years. Your 
book is a wonderful meal to nourish the spirit of 
compassionate mischief that keeps our humanity 
alive. Write on! 

In love and solidarity, 

D.D.B.— Amherst, Massachusetts 



I'm (still) a secretary in a sales office located in a 
beautiful brownstone building in Lx)isaida (Lower 
East Side, or "the East Village"as the trendies term 
it), Manhattan. I'm not compartmentalized in a 
cubicle, I mostly work on my own (though not 
always at a leisurely pace) and, although I work long 
hours, I manage to "steal back" enough time and 
resources (use of my computer, the fax and 
photocopier, etc.) to make up for a somewhat fair 
but (subjectively) low salary. I manage to put out 
various 'zines for four amateur press alliances 
(A? As) to which my husband and I currently belong, 
and I put out two newsletters— one for ten years, one 
for six— largely on "office time." 

I was raised with a good work ethic, which means I 
take care and pride in everything I do, whether it's 





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editorial letters and "APAzines" or drone-work for 
The Corporation. I'm known for the speed at which I 
get my job done, and through my nine years here 
I've been given steady raises and more diversified 
responsibihties (i.e., not just mindless typing) as well 
as perks (free books, free invites to various 
yuppie-affairs, etc.) and a credible reputation. I'm 
usually relatively discreet about my hobbies, which 
has let me get away with a lot without pissing 
anybody off. I come from a frugal family, and I'm 
anal-retentively organized, which means I've saved 
the company lots of money on things like office and 
household supplies (all of which I'm now in charge) 
and can therefore splurge on supplies for myself now 
and again (I'm not a conspicuous consumer, so there 
aren't a lot of material things I crave). 

I'm also in charge of hiring temps, sometimes to 
replace me if I take a mental health or actual sick 
day, which brings me to the main reason I'm writing: 
the story in your DOWNTIME! section called 
"Paperslutting" by Stella. This really pissed me off, 
and started me to wondering, if her Bad Attitude is 
what PW readers are supposed to admire and 
emulate, maybe PW and I have grown apart in 
recent years; the thought saddens me. 

Stella is correct in thinking of herself as a paper 
slut. Despite the good folks at COYOTE [Call Off 
Your Old Tired Ethics, a prostitute's rights group], 
and people like Jane in your Sabotage section, I 
would think many prostitutes have rather low images 
of themselves, and this, obviously, contributes to the 
already-low image others have of them. Perhaps 
Stella was attempting to "reclaim" a word that 
commonly has a negative connotation, but it didn't 
seem like it to me. It seemed like she just didn't give 
a shit about anything other than pride in what she 
could get away with by being nasty and "subversive" 
to some faceless corporation. 

Let me tell you something, Stella— I'm not a 
faceless corporation. I'm a cog in the machine just 

like you. My machine happens to be shinier than a 
lot of others I know, and believe me, I'm happy 
about that. It's nice not to have a totally shitty job, 
to get four weeks plus sick time plus medical bennies 
plus "stolen back" time. It's not cushy, it's not 
earth-shaking, but it's a decent living. When I hire a 
temp to help me or sub for me, I'm the one who has 
to "clean up" after her/him. If he/she fucks up the 
system, they're not fucking the corporation, they're 
fucking me. My corporation may be paying for a 
good time (i.e., an 8-hour day) from Stella Slut, but 
I'm the one getting abused in the end. 

It's hard for me to attempt common courtesy with 
someone apparently out to treat her peers as shiftily 
as she expects (and wants?) to be treated herself, but 
come on, Stella. I'm not your enemy. I'm not a 
bureaucrat, I'm a flesh and blood person just like 
you. I don't treat temps like dirt; when I call a temp 
agency, I expect intelligent people with common 
sense to help me out with my overflow. If I'm in, I'll 
give temps a tour of the house, sometimes I go to 
lunch with them, and I don't assign people 
monumental tasks (I leave those for myself). A temp 
isn't working for me, she/he is working with me. 
You, however, are working against me, and it's just 
not fair for me to, say, come back from vacation and 
have to clean up your shit. I don't deserve it. And 
you, Stella, deserve a better self-image. But do all us 
workers with civility a favor— get out of temping 

Thanks for letting me say my piece. 

E.W-C— Brooklyn, New York 


DenT Processed World, 

Thanks for PW, which made good holiday 
reading. I regret, however, that I must turn down 
your appeal for a subscription, since I note that PW 
makes no provision for paying writers. 

r>E^OEZE55ED kJJCIF>bh_EI 3C3 






\%ic^2 0^ 



If you and your collective wish to go unpaid, I 
have no objections. But, as one who must struggle 
constantly to make a marginal living with his pen, I 
will not, on principle, send any of that hard earned 
cash to a publication that has no money for its 
writers. I have been doing this work long enough to 
know that writers seldom receive large sums, but the 
notion that they are to give their services for nothing, 
while printers, postmen, landlords, etc. are paid, is 
simply unacceptable to me. 

On the other hand, I certainly wish you and PW 
well. I found the magazine worthwhile, but, as a 
member of the National Writers Union as well as the 
I WW, I feel unable to go against my principles in 
this matter. 


J.G.— N. Miami, Florida 


'^€\q Processed World, 

Your publication is obscure, confusing and 
disturbing. In short, I love it. My experiences with a 
sporadical APM demonstrated the difficulty of 
producing worthwhile material of a periodic nature. 
At any rate, you guys do it well. I'm glad to see you 
don't pay for your material. I agree. It's the only 
way to get anything that's worth something. I know 
it may seem untrue sometimes, but there really are 
still people who read. What you have reassured me 
about is that there are still people who can write. 

Smiling Holocaust— P.O. Box 3297, Berkeley, 
California 94703 


Yk2i\ Processed World: 

Loved issue 29! An especially fine and trenchant 
selection of toons. My favorite was on p. 4 by J.F. 
Batellier— the workers on the auction blocks— this is 
the future, baby! Also enjoyed the Wobbly-PfF 
dialogue— won't get that in any damn Time-Life 
pubs! But the best, the very BEST thing of all was 
the piece on Sabotage in the American Workplace. 
I'll have you know I proudly word-processed and 

,^o^« ^^^*^''^ 

faxed this while at "werk" ((sic)k) at a government 
think-tank. Keep putting out the best damn magazine 
around about modem work and me and my friends 
will keep buying it. 

Good luck to you, senores! 

B.E., Process Resistor, EUicot City, Maryland 


Dear friends at Pff; 

Thanks to Chris Carlsson for reviewing our 
Questioning Technology in #29. While he seemed a 
little too bent on slamming Zerzan for past wrongs to 
always read what's there, I thought the review useful, 
especially his reminder (which Zerzan and Games 
would fully agree with) that choosing how we hve, 
including what technology we depend on, is 
ultimately a collective decision— in fact a matter of 
collective power stmggle. 

As the writer of the much-mahgned publisher's 
note, I'm pleased that Ghris was provoked to 
respond, if also sad that my note and the brackets 
were so annoying that he missed my points. They 
were (to try again): 

1) that like patriarchy, the "logic" of the 
technology we all depend on is largely invisible, the 
result of some historical choices (of the powerful) 
and pernicious. The sort of technology we hve with is 
in no way inevitable, but it does have lots of 
momentum and power behind it— and one of the first 
steps towards collectively choosing what technologies 
we want is to recognize the pervasive logic and 
powerful proponents of the current dominant form. 
The brackets were chosen precisely to provoke and 
reveal (not remedy), just as Questioning Technology 
provokes and reveals . . .and 

2) that organic farming is a well-developed 
example of a different, richer, more liberating and 
more human relationship with both technology 
and the natural world. It is an example of a way of 
living that acknowledges limits, that sees humans as 
part of the fabric of life, not somehow free of or superior 
to hfe. Using our human ingenuity to understand (how- 
ever dimly) and to work with natural forces is much 

more likely to enable us to survive drought, storms, 
etc.— and the human-made disasters (famine, flood 
damage) they often trigger— than ignoring or trying to 
simplify (in the guise of transcending) such complex, 
subtle and powerful forces. Developing urban 
examples of sustainable and appropriately scaled 
technologies, economies, cultures and the like is a 
wonderful challenge to our collective ingenuity and 
power. It requires stubborn hope and fierce 
determination, something quite different from the 
despair that Garlsson reads into Questioning Tech- 


T.L. Hill for New Society Publishers, Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania 



So many things I have on my mind are in your 
magazine— i.e. biotechnology. I especially liked the 
pieces by Kwazee Wabbit. The circular reasoning 
and step-wise exaggeration in "Sleazy Research 
Tricks" just made me laugh out loud. One hideous 
responsibility of the editor at a pharmaceutical ad 
agency (which I sometimes am) is to fact check the 
articles, which means obtaining the original articles 
the writer and company neglected to obtain, reading 
them, only to find great leaps of faith, inaccuracies, 
or references to previous articles published in foreign 
countries in 1969, or completely unrelated data. 
There is only so far you can go in this thankless task, 
with everyone wanting you to give the OK without 
taking the time to do the job. I knew the facts in the 
New York Times were approximations— merely 
arranging the information requires a point of 
view— and that photos were more biased even than 
news stories, but I thought statistics were inviolate! 
Little did I know what an existential horror they can 
be. Talk about the Void. 

Perhaps an issue oi Processed World on process is 
in order— the process involved to put forth the final 

F'F^aEZEaSEC] LJjaF^h_a 3C3 

THIS M«»fclll W«IL» 



IN C0N&RES5.' 

things v^ere certainly different last 
year; the nation was swept up in a 
wa>je of self-(on&ratolatory euphokia 
in the aftermath of the gijlf war'. 

documents at law firms, ad agencies, government 
departments, and corporate offices, including termi- 
nal meetings and bins of word processed paper, to 
the internal process temps develop to make it through 
the day, i.e. stolen paper clips, long-distance phone 
calls, clandestine xeroxes, printer time, and mental 
notes made in spare moments. The creative process is 
included too, which is perhaps the strangest and most 
interesting of all. 

Your friend from the East Village, 

L.W.-New York, New York 


Dm Processed World, 

It's not something that comes immediately to mind 
as I sit on the couch watching the latest network 
rerun or the Lawrence Welk show on my local PBS 
station, KQED. I'm even less apt to consider it while 
checking out the late night sex shows like Studs or 
Love Connection. And I'm much too busy studying 
the newscaster's receding hairline during the nightly 
news to remember this little piece of trivia. But it's 
written into the law books, and I should be thinking 
about it a lot more; for that matter, everyone within 
earshot of any broadcasting outlet should. The 
airwaves are public property. 

This place we call America, where the bonds are 
breaking down faster than a commercial break, and 
people are frustrated and ignorant (unless they make 
an extra special effort to find information, and who's 
got the time?), lest we forget, this place is the only 
one most of us have got. Regardless of how we got 
here, most of us have nowhere else to go. And 

regardless of our assets, we have been taught that we 
have certain inalienable rights, like free speech, the 
pursuit of happiness, Hberty, all that. 

Well what good is free speech if nobody can hear 
me? And how can I ever pursue happiness if I don't 
have enough money for a new car? And liberty? We 
won't even get into that... The fact remains: 
television is warping me and it's already gotten to 
most of my friends. 

It is only through ongoing struggle by educators 
and other early activists that the imperative to serve 
the "public interest" has been considered in 
broadcast regulation in the U.S. The creation of PBS 
and the allocation of radio stations for educational 
use was the result of people organizing and 
demanding that the airwaves be used constructively. 
It was, again, through people organizing at the onset 
of cable television that public access television came 
into being. And it will be, again, through people 
organizing that we, as a public, will have the right to 
decide what is going to come at us through the 

airwaves that belong to us. 

With the incredible advances in technology of the 
last decade, and the equally swift advances in the 
monopolization of the media industry, the time may 
be upon us to start thinking of how we would like to 
see our media landscape progress. The networks have 
lost much of their power and many of their 
departments— most notably, news departments— are 
in decline. Is it really that far out to consider public 
access to the broadcast airwaves? Why should 
General Electric, Westinghouse and the rest of those 
big bad companies control our major communication 
arteries? They told us in elementary school that this 
was a democracy, so we ought to demand that they 
allow us to inform one another, the way that 
participants in a democracy must. 

Yours truly, 

later Tot— San Francisco, California 



I just picked up #29 and especially liked the 
excerpts from the Sabotage book. How creative 
people at work can be! I've worked as an underling 
in so many capacities, I definitely find that working 
class jobs are more humane than office jobs. When I 
was working a printing press, all that counted was 
my skill and output. Now, in my present job, I must 
dress and act "right" which really drives me up the 

- wall. It's almost like skill and output are secondary 

- in the office worid. Well, you've heard it all before. 
Luckily, I have and have had many fine managers 
who think like I do on this point. 

Thanks for your often noble efforts. 


L.M.— San Francisco, California 



I'm seeking an alternative work environment. I 
was working downtown doing temp work, word 
processing, etc. (which I detested, but the pay was 
decent). I decided to get away from that type of work 
situation entirely and got a job working in a cafe. I 
liked the cafe job very much at first and in contrast to 
the other work I had been doing, because, although 
the work was demanding in different ways and the 
pay was low, there seemed to be much more freedom 
to just be myself and not to have to dress up and play 
a role that wasn't authentic. But, unfortunately, I 
had to quit that job recently due to sexual 
harassment from the owner and other unfair and 
humiliating practices. So I thought this would be a 
good time to write. 

Thank you. 

B.M.— San Francisco, California 

KllJfr VERDICT, RloriMfi. ANt> 

by Ace Backwords ©w" 


JONK Bond HOotiSAigs kapeE 


(Presidemt bosh reaches out 
with a heartfelt appeal : 



Meanwhile, America comcluks 





for social rcsearchf this is 
Flyinc 3Auce:r captain zorcH 
ke.p(?rtin€i oh mass o^^ct^ 
SBiTiNCi IN i^rtu American 

^AFTH CtriBSf 



From April 29 to May 2, 1 992 (Earth calendar), my 
crew and I observed thousands of earthlings seizing 
and redistributing goods from public display stations, 
especially in the Los Angeles cityplex. 

Earth society is peculiarl The inhabitants produce 
everything they need in their factories and famis, 
but these products are not simply passed out 
to everyone. 

Instead, the goods are enclosed in stores whose front walls 
are made of windows (thin, transparent membranes). 

The earthlings also spend five hours every evening 
viewing images of their objects on televisions (thin, 
opaque membranes), which keeps them further 
tantalized between visits to the windows. 

The windows separate the products from the creatures 
while Iceeping them continually tantalized. 



The creatures engage in a roundabout lifelong ritual to obtain the goods from the stores, instead of simply 
breaking the \A/indows, which are made of the most brittle material on the planet I They typically spend 
sixty years at Jobs (repugnant involuntary activity) in exchange for money (thin cellulose strips) to trade 
for the things in the stores. 

Eariier Martian expeditions had observed infants in 
stores grabbing for objects until a parent earthling 
trained them with bizarre vocal spasms about the 
universal money-object relationship. 

However, during the festive events of April 29 to May 2, 
the creatures reverted to a sensible form of tDehavior— 
they communal^ seized the goods through the windovy^^ 
instead of submitting to money-shopping. 

TWe PRBSEHT Jb&S'MOHef'SHorpiNei sociau 


Feeu AT HoMel me. looting fb^tivals 




In conclusion, the creatures are gradually creating, as 
our VUlcan friends would say, a logical existence. 


AND cov^erSy L£.r , 


onuL. IVmvi A i 




\a 1H 


^' V,v 


1 ^ IP' 


This space message was intercepted and decoded by 
the Social Club. Send two first-class stamps to us at 2 1 40 
Shattuck Avenue, Box 2200, Berkeley, CA 94704 for copies 
of our other outbursts. 


our OF LINE 

A Processed Diary 

RIO DE JANEIRO -Saturday, 

May 23: Having forgotten he 
needed a visa, the Special Agent 
had a hard time getting past Bra- 
zil's policia federal at the airport. 
Two $20 bills tucked in his pass- 
port didn't help. But a wake up 
call to the consul general cleared 
things up. Then it was "Sim senhor, 
right this way," after that. The 
Special Agent was on a special 
mission for the Friendly Govern- 

After he got out of the shower, we 
had a few beers and watched Copaca- 
bana roar to hfe on the streets below the 
apartment we had rented for the dura- 
tion. A thin spray of surf was visible at 
the end of a deep chasm, the avenida 

leading to the beach. 

The Special Agent got on the horn. 
Our first order of business was a 
powwow with Indian leaders over at the 
Hotel Novo Mundo. When we got 
there, they demanded fax machines, 
computers and printers. Lucky for us 
the Special Agent had been authorized 
to bring cash from the Friendly Gov- 
ernment. We would be welcomed to the 
Indian village, Kari Oca. 

We went over to the Hotel Nacional 
to adjust our gut microflora by immer- 
sing ourselves in a grand "feijoada," 
Brazil's national dish of black beans and 
all the pork that's not exported, rice, 
kale, yucca, and above all, caipirinha, 
cane liquor with lime juice, the key 

As night fell, we strolled along the 
beach. Suddenly we were surrounded 
by three whores. One started rubbing 
my crotch. While I protested, another 

lifted my wallet. It was a crash refresher 
course in street walking in Rio de 

I'm up late watching looters emptying 
supermercados on TV news. "We are 
hungry," says one, "we have to sack." 
Children are waving pistols at the 
camera. The guns have names, says one 
teen with a revolver in each hand, and 
they have killed many times. 

What will the environmentalists who 
are here for the big U.N. Conference on 
the Environment and Development 
have to say about all this? What do the 
environment and development mean in a 
city like Rio or Los Angeles, cities of the 
future? People want what they see on 
TV. And they are willing to riot to get 
their rights — not necessarily at city hall, 
but at the mini-mall. Television is 
beaming this message 'round the globe. 

The Blade Runner just called from a 
pay phone. He is on his way over. So 
we're all here now. The Special Agent, 
the Blade Runner and me, the Scribe. 
Oh yeah, and the Bodyguard. He 

Nobody talks about 
movements anymore. 

The latest line in 

social engineering is 

that ecological 

principles should 

organize the economy. 

watches over us so mercifully, I almost 
forgot him. Our assignment: the Earth 
Summit. Like everybody else here, we 
are on a self-inflated mission to the 
greatest meeting in human history, and 
our handles were chosen accordingly. 
The Blade Runner got his from the ease 
with which he cut through the set of 
Rio, just like it was his very own movie. 

Monday, May 25: We finally had to 
get down to business today. The Special 
Agent asked us to cover him while he 
ran money to the Indians. And we had 
to get credentialed. 

First, we learned how to walk the 
streets again. The Special Agent showed 
us his urban gunslinger wzdk, mental 


F'E=^aE:E55ECI UJOFSh_i3 3CD 

pistol in the shoulder holster, eyes 
roving like a cool lazy radar dish, taking 
in everything while slinking around the 
city like some kind of post-ecological 
Billy the Kid. Soon we were all doing it. 

The offices for the Worldwide Indi- 
genous Peoples Encounter and the offi- 
cial United Nations conference were in 
the same government tourism building 
downtown. At the UNCED office, 
Bronx-speaking guards and interna- 
tionally accented secretaries ushered us 
quickly through the steps producing 
small white laminated photo ID cards. 
For the Indians, we had to run down the 
block to get photos, have lunch at a 
nearby bar while we waited, and finally 
we were issued a big orange medallion. 

Anybody who is somebody here it 
seems has at least three different cre- 
dentials hanging around the neck. Every 
meeting has its own symbolic totems of 
access. Like crossing borders, you need 
a passport. 

At the consulate of the Friendly 
Government this morning, when the 
Special Agent stacked money for the 
Indians in a raggedly old bag given to 
him years ago by an Amazon shaman, a 
consular functionary intoned like a 
robot: I've never seen anything like this 
before. Neither had we. 

We rented a car and drove out to the 
Indian encampment on the edge of 
town. Every couple of blocks we asked 
directions and finally found the site in 
an unused corner of a mental asylum, 
tucked in a lush forest under the sur- 
prising granite monoliths that rise 
around Rio. At the insistence of the 
Indian leaders, the city is stringing 
electricity out here so that indigenous 
people from around the world can meet, 
party, and type their agendas and 
statements into laptops late into the 
night. It is a local demonstration of their 
global clout. 

I retreat to the Kari Oca bar to jot 
down notes. Desperately seeking any 
new angle, like most of the 7,000 
journalists here, a Brazilian friend stops 
by and gets after me for a quote about 
the scene. It is a favorite shortcut, 
quoting other journalists. 

"What are you doing here?" she asks. 
I try to explain Processed World but there 
is no adequate translation. "Processed" 
in Portuguese is beneficiado, benefitted or 
improved. But what if a process does not 

Thursday, May 28: I was in the 
Jornal do Brasil yesterday. It seems the 
Kari Oca bar is the hottest new spot in 
town. The proof: your faithful Scribe 

from Processed World. "It's a tranquil 
place. You can even relax there among 
the confusion," said I. 

I find myself agreeing more and more 
with a bumpersticker we saw here the 
other day: Everybody has to believe in 
something. I believe Fll have another beer. It 
could be the unofficial motto of Brazil. 

The usually fresh, even if only slightly 
cool Antarticas slide down our throats one 
after the other as we reflect on Zoo 92, 
as one wag dubbed this happening. "Eco 
92," as most people call it here, is a many 
ring circus. Everybody is putting on a 
big show to demonstrate their power. 
It's like Amazon headsmen who vie to 
throw the biggest party. They have to be 
here to be heard, to command resour- 
ces in the New World Order. The roles 
are set in advance. What remains is to 

We wondered why the Indians set up 
camp on the outskirts of town in a 
mental asylum. "The Indians and pa- 
tients have a lot in common," explained 
a nurse. "They are both marginalized. 
They don't have their liberty. They are 
wards of the state." 

But the Indians also seem to have 
marginalized and folklorized themselves 
here, mainly it seems to satisfy their 
supporters who want to feed their own 
fierce primitive images. Maurice 
Strong, the oilman who heads UNCED, 
came out to smoke a peace pipe and get 
his picture in the paper with the 

We heard the Yanomami took one 
look at Kari Oca and said no thanks. 
The so-called last stone-age people in 
the world preferred to stay in a hotel 

play them out. 

Our first view of this was the stockade 
fenced replica of an Indian village they 
call Kari Oca, a play on carioca, the 
nickname for the urbane residents of 
Rio, and oca, an Indian word for lodge 
or hut. The Indians are on display at 
Kari Oca. They have built great 
thatched lodges where they meet and 
rest in hammocks during the heat of the 
day. But later there is plenty of feathers 
and folklore for photographers with 
frequent dances and war party whoops. 
A blonde woman dressed like Jane 
parades with her Tarzan-like Indian 
sidekick, a painted exotic dancer who 
has toured Europe and America, who 
hands us his business card. When it 
comes time to eat, the reputedly fierce 
Kayapo are always first in line. 


Tonight we were invited out with our 
informants among the upper class cari- 
ocas. They took us to a chic new 
restaurant, Mistura Fina, the first stop on 
a rarefied view of Rio. The rich are 
nervous these days. Not only has the 
Presidente been denounced as a corrupt, 
drug-sniffing. megalomaniac by his own 
brother, shaming all who voted for him, 
but the Little Prince has been kidnapped 
from Petropolis. The heir to the Brazil- 
ian monarchy, if there still were one, is 
being held for $5 million ransom. The 
country can't pay. (Brazil is scheduled to 
hold a national referendum in 1993 on 
what type of state they will have: 
presidential, parliamentary, or mon- 

"This is Brazil," said the daughter of a 

PF^aczEsaEEJ 3C3 


Rio newspaper magnate, "Just today, I 
was robbed of my purse at gunpoint 
while stopped at a red light." 

Yet when one of us innocently agreed 
that you have to stay on your toes in 
Rio, she protested vehemently. 

"Everywhere is violent! The same 
thing could happen in St. Moritz or 
Monaco! My poor country," she sighed, 
as if the burden of the image was even 
greater than that of reality. 

We ended up at a party thrown by the 
youngest member of the Brazilian parli- 
ament. We looked down on the swim- 
ming pool of the Copacabana Palace 
and debated how much smoked salmon 
to eat, as champagne was poured down 
our gullets by waiters in black and 
white. We had hoped that the bowls 
circulating through the crowd might 
contain some of Rio's famous Brizola, 
the state governor's name which has 
become slang for cocaine. We were 
about to dip in when the Special Agent 
reminded us just in time about the stur- 
geon general's warning about inhaling 
caviar. It doesn't matter. We're starting 
to ride a current of energy that seems 
like the pulse of this city. 

Saturday, May 30: We woke up late 
to find that the Army has occupied Rio 
with 6,000 soldiers posted every 100 
meters along the beachfront avenues. 
And today we had to carry more money 
and jugs of hallucinogens to the Indians. 
The Specieil Agent's mission is getting 
out of line. We crammed into a bor- 
rowed car with a few friends we have 
picked up along the way and drove out 
to Kari Oca. The car smelled of alcohol 
fuel — even the machines run on cane 
liquor — and backfired every block. We 

were afraid we would be shot at. 

It turned out the orange liquid in the 
jugs was ayahausca bound for the Sami, 
the blonde, blue-eyed indigenes from 
Norway who were dressed in red and 
blue wool outfits and sweating profusely 
when we arrived. Last night, they said, 
some of the Indians had hopped around 
clucking like chickens. They wanted to 
try some of whatever that was. 

I was about to do the same when the 
Special Agent pulled me ' aside and 
showed me the little pieces of paper 
printed with lightning bolts that a friend 
had slipped to him in trade. "Berserker 
medicine," he said, "for the beer and 
wool tribe." We decided to get out of 
town and leave the indigenous people to 
their own hallucinations. 

We headed south along the coast past 
the Club Med to a hotel on a bluff with a 
chairlift descending to the beach below. 
Prevailing on a waiter to keep the bar 
open, we sipped caipirinhas and stared up 
at the stars. We couldn't find the 
Southern Cross. We're becoming dis- 
oriented. Or maybe we never had our 

Monday, June 1: Dawn over Copa- 
cabana. We're barely holding on at our 
favorite juice bar on Nossa Senhora de 
Copacabana as Rio starts a new week- 
day. The Blade Runner turns from his 
orange juice, nods adeus, and disap- 
pears into the cacophony. 

We spent the morning yesterday 
sitting by the pool like experts analyzing 
the Earth Summit, which begins today. 

"The name itself always struck me as 
a little pretentious," said the Blade 
Runner. Could you really expect 128 
heads of state to solve the Earth's 

problems during a weekend in Rio? 

Caught with thousands of other cars 
in a tunnel on the way back into town, 
we started making up headlines for the 
big event. Traffic Jam at the Earth 
Summit. Green Gathering Produces 
Global Gridlock and Greenhouse 
Gases. UNCED: Better Left Unsaid. 

We turned off at Ipanema Beach and 
decided to escape even further with 
those lightning bolts. Then we headed 
for the Universidade do Chope, the 
university of draft beer, and the Acade- 
mia de Cacha^a, the academy of cane 
liquor, to get in shape. 

We left our car in the care of the 
Guardian of the Universe until we were 
primed to race with the rest of Rio. We 
roared down the beachfront like Emer- 
son Fittipaldi, belching alcohol out our 
tailpipe. We dined late with the Queens 
of Copacabana in a little trattoria by the 
beach. We closed down Caligula and 
went vainly in search of a late night 
Bossa. We followed a tip about a Dada 
'n' Zen bar to a curtained door in an 
anonymous office building. Inside they 
were showing urban pastoral animation 
on the wall, cities turning into butter- 
flies, and mixing passion fruit caipir- 
inhas. We ended up back at the apart- 
ment, trying to stay out of trouble, 
listening loud to world music and 
dream-like pop that sounded like the last 
wave played backwards until the dawn 
rose over Copacabana. 

Tuesday, June 2: We've been 
shopping for a better world. The future 
of ecology is on scde at the Global 
Forum, a huge flea market of eco-gear 
and ideology. Outside Flamengo Park, 
street vendors hawk everything from 
nylon bags to beach towels emblazoned 
with Eco 92 and pictures of parrots and 
scantily clad women. Inside environ- 
mental organizations sell everything 
from t-shirts and books to crystals and 
rainforest powders. 

Dubbed an Eco-Woodstock by the 
local press, the diversity reflects the 
inclusivity and relativity of ecology. Not 
only are the predictable environmental- 
ists and developmentalists here, from 
Greenpeace to the Global Environmen- 
tal Fund, but scientists, technocrats, 
businessmen, and spirituadists are in on 
the action too. It is a view of the new 
ecological global village where every- 
thing is seen through green lenses. Here 
everything seems open to debate in 
ecological terms. 

"Still there's more talk about preser- 
vation than about cities," complained 
Silvia Barbosa Muniz, a social worker 



who like us was touring the more than 
600 booths. "The worst degradation is 
in big cities," she said, seeming to sum 
up Rio's message to the Earth Summit. 
"And it has to do with misery. How can 
we improve the environment unless we 
make human relations better? The 
world can't equilibrate until there's 
more of a human equilibrium. Our 
problems are not separated. People can't 
be. Nature has us intimately tied." 

I wanted to get together with her on 
that. But the Bodyguard pulled me away 
just in time. Who is he watching out for 
anyway? I'm beginning to think it's my 

Wandering around, we came across a 
blue-and-white tent where the World- 
watch Institute was holding an opening 
day press conference. The blue-blazer- 
khaki- slacks- loafer-and-open- shirt 
crowd seemed to be assembling for a 
news feed. It looked like a gathering of 
the new ecocrats of the global village, 
presumably the future rulers of the 
world. We couldn't miss out! 

"This is a turning point in history," 
proclaimed Gro Harlem Brundtland, 
the Norwegian prime minister and chair 
of the commission that led to UNCED. 
WorldWatch head Lester Brown claimed 
no less modestly, "This is an event that 
will separate two distinct eras. What the 
future will be like will be decided here." 

The Worldwatch cadre appears to be 
an especially assertive crossbreed of 
environmental doomsayers and eco- 
policy wonks eager to sit in the driver's 
seat and save the world — or at least 
make the obligatory warnings from the 
back seat. "We must reverse direction in 
the next decade," said Brown. "Or we 
will face a spiral of economic and 
environmental decline. And future gen- 
erations will have no chance. Whether 
this conference leads to the social mo- 
mentum to bring about the necessary 
transformations will be the measure of 
its success," Brown allowed. 

The dream of conference-goers and 
think-tankers like these is that by par- 
laying with the media and policymakers 
they will be able to build social momen- 
tum for change. Nobody talks about 
movements anymore. The latest line in 
social engineering is that ecological 
principles should organize the economy. 

"To reconcile human activities with 
the laws of nature, nothing less is what 
must be done," said Bruntland. But 
what are the laws of nature? And do we 
really want our social life organized 
according to the science of ecology, 
which aside from some very large gen- 

eral theories and some very small spe- 
cific findings is still mainly a rhetoric 
easily appropriated by many ideologies? 

It sounded like survival of the fittest 
to me. And there is no doubt that 
eco-pundits will survive. While the au- 
thorities talked, beer, orange juice, 
mineral water, and guarana (the Coke of 
Brazil) were free-flowing. A buffet table 
was laden with platters of roast beef, 
quiche, pate, eggplant, fresh salad, 
papaya, guanabana, kiwi, pineapple, and 

Meanwhile Lester Brown was saying, 
"Chateaubriand said forests come before 
civilization, deserts after. The equation 
is simple: the more people, the more 

poverty, the more pollution." I was 
getting confused. Did he say something 
about steak? I was reminded of Maurice 
Strong's wish for us all to live lives of 
elegant simplicity. Would we all be able 
to have our Chateaubriand and eat our 
desserts too? 

We ducked out after lunch and went 
to catch the opening ceremony of the 
Global Forum. On the beach, we met 
up with a friend from the World Bank, 
which also has a small stand here, too. 
"This is great. It's wonderful," he en- 
thused. "All these little groups getting 

But didn't he feel awkward or threat- 
ened, walking around with a World 


Many hands makes 
less workers 




Bio-engineering for business 

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Bank name tag on his chest? "I haven't 
been attacked yet," he rephed cheerful- 
ly. "What are you doing here?" he 
asked. "Sounds like processed cheese," 
he laughed, when I told him of our 

A helicopter circled overhead as we 
waited in a huge crowd for the arrival of 
Gaia, a replica Viking boat carrying 
messages from the children of the world. 
But Gaia seemed to be stuck offshore. 
Brazilian girl scouts were whining 
through an unintelligible song about the 
Earth when the crowd started getting 
unruly. A mob of journalists rushed the 
celebrities on stage. I pushed my way 
through the commotion. 

A couple of ruddy hippies were 
standing in the waves with a big banner 
strung between them. "GAIA GO 
SHO W OFF. Give the Money to the Favelas 
(& solve ecological problems there), " the 
banner read, with each phrase diminish- 
ing across its length. "I am Bruntland's 
green warrior," shouted one of the pro- 
testors from the Society of Nature Con- 
serv'ists of Norway. Soon a group of street 
kids jumped in on the action with a ban- 
ner reading "The children of Brazil are 
abandoned. " 

We decided it was time to clear out. 
Heading for the exits, we ran into an an- 
gry young American smashing a coconut 




THftTi XlGfiT- 
Not SctiHTlfiC! 

on the sidewalk to get at the white meat 
inside. The Special Agent offered his 
Swiss Army knife. "What are you doing 
here?" we asked. 

"I came to participate in the process," 
he glowered. "But business and govern- 
ment are up there screwing each other 
and we're here wallowing in the muck. 
This is the biggest farce, totally paid for 
by Coke, 3M, and Arco," he averred, 
waving the coconut at the stands and 
tents all around the Global Forum. 
"They've got the right to put their label 
on this thing," he said. "It's gone a step 
beyond greenwashing, you know. They're 
not just putting a facade on it. They're 
owning it." 

Wednesday , June 3: A day of official 
events began in darkness at the Earth 
Parliament. Somebody was blowing a 
panpipe while a monotone voice droned 
something about his mother earth and 
another body danced in the shadows. 
This was the show Darrell Posey organ- 
ized to demonstrate the wisdoms of 
tribal people. 

Posey has been credited with pointing 
out in recent years that indigenous 
knowledge is just as valid as western 
science. But this show seems designed to 
blur the idea into an insipid blend of 
new age spirit pap. 

The Earth Parliament is sponsored by 
The Body Shop. Posey is pushing a 
new line of androgynous perfumes 
made from jungle ingredients and 
named for Indian tribes. Now you, too, 
can smell like indigenous people! 

When we asked where this latest 
rainforest marketing idea came from, 
Posey replied, "Well, I'm an anthropol- 
ogist and a botanist." But before he 
could continue, the Special Agent said, 
"Well, I'm a man and a gardener. So 
what?" I had to pull him out of there 
before they got into a fight. 

Over at the National Museum, where 
the intellectuals were meeting, we 
picked up some hard numbers. From a 
linguist we learned that only half of the 
world's 6,000 languages are currently 
being taught. Only 300 languages are 
sure of being in use a century from now. 
While everybody is bemoaning biodiver- 
sity loss, he said, there is little being 
heard in favor of cultural diversity. 

Back at the Global Forum's Interna- 
tional Press Center, we decided to play 
journalists and spend the rest of the day 
at press conferences. "The greatest ene- 
my of the environment is poverty," said 
an economist of the World Bank, re- 
flecting the new universal line. "Envir- 
onmental damages are not inevitable. 
Governments have it within their hands 
to turn these unwanted results around. 
We believe in a win-win policy." 

"There will be problems," acknow- 
ledged another official. "But if we make 
errors we will remedy them." 

"The World Bank is greener than the 
trees," the Special Agent whispered. So 
is big business these days. The Business 
Council for Sustainable Development 
has come to Rio to announce its strategy 
for internalizing environmental costs. 
Of course they didn't mention passing 
on the costs to consumers. Greenpeace 
counterattacked with a slick press kit of 
its own denouncing the greenwashing of 
big bad business. 

The Indians too, held a press confer- 
ence. "Yanomami is people too, gente, 
povo, " announced Davi Yanomami. 
"Yanomami knows how to talk, to think. 
I'm talking here without a paper. I'm 
talking from my own knowledge. You 
can't find my path." 

He had a warning for Bush. "Don't 
come to town with a bad heart." 

"If the market is the new religion," 
said the Special Agent, "then I'll stick to 
my animist guns." 

Next we learned that the Global 
Forum is bankrupt. Since we arrived, 
there have been noises that the event is 


$2 million short. Now they're threaten- 
ing to pass one of Bella Abzug's hats 
around. We decide to apply the law of 
supply and demand and make ourselves 

Friday, June 5: We ran around town 
all day looking for the ballyhooed bio- 
diversity treaty. None of the environ- 
mental groups in their public relations 
trailers at the International Press Center 
had a copy of the treaty they were 
excoriating the U.S. for refusing to sign. 
So we took our first trip out to the 
official UNCED conference for the 

The road to Riocentro, a new con- 
vention center built especially for the 
Earth Summit, shows the whole story 
here. The route goes by the famous 
beaches and high-rises, past the infa- 
mous Rocinha/aw/a [slum]. Army tanks 
are poised with turrets trained on the 
hillside shantytown said to be controlled 
by druglords. Although Rio has been 
spruced up para Ingles ver (for the English 
to see), the ragged edges are always 

Riocentro is a big warehouse-like 
structure built on marshes south of the 
city. A favela has already sprung up 
across the street and tapped into the 
water and electricity lines going to the 
convention center. These neighbors 
have complained that sewage from the 
official delegates is discharged into their 
front yards. 

When I asked at the U.S. delegation 
for a copy of the biodiversity treaty 
President Bush has refused to sign, a 
delegate intoned, "that would not be 
appropriate," but finally, a diplomat at 

the Brazilian delegation was persuaded 
to make us a copy. 

More than any other document at the 
summit, the treaty on biological diversi- 
ty reflects the thicket of controversies 
confronting any attempt to equitably 
administer global ecology. And the 
biodiversity treaty has become an in- 
stant rhetorical battleground between 
North and South, the presumed poles of 
the New World Order. "By making 
Third World countries buy clean tech- 
nology from the First World," a Third 
World journalist explained to us later 
that night, "the First World maintains 
its domination in the name of ecology." 

Oh, now we get it, we nodded. 

The biodiversity treaty attempts to 
make the First World countries share 
technology, patents, and profits with 
Third World countries. Nevermind that 
it's hard to tell who's on first and who's 
on third, not to mention what n«rth and 
south have to do with it. Late into the 
night, we get into arguments defending 
the refusal to sign such a mess, on the 
grounds that perhaps mutual respect of 
property rights, as the Indians insisted 
at their meeting, is a better place to 

But everybody is getting burned out 
on arguments already. They want 
things to move. 

"I was waiting for this moment," said 
a young Brazilian reporter at the Rock 
and Roll Bar. "How do you feel now?" 
we asked. "Empty," she sighed. 

Monday, June 8: At the Earth Walk 
protest on Copacabana beach yesterday, 
the Americans took the front row with 
their trenchant critique of George Bush: 

with a human face. 

"eco-wimp," they taunted. It's beginning 
to grate on us that Americans are always 
so insistent on taking the lead, even if 
they have nothing to lead with. So what 
did they expect? And why can't they just 
shut up and follow the rest of the world 
for a while? 

Later at the Circo Voador, at a 
performance club called the Flying Cir- 
cus, the Earth Parliament held its clos- 
ing ceremony. After Indian leaders 
made long speeches, the press exploded 
with elbows and glee when the U.S. 
Congressional delegation entered for a 

Congressman Porter, of the House 
Human Rights Subcommittee, told the 
Blade Runner that he became aware 
there were human rights violations in 
the world when his wife was strip 
searched at the Moscow airport. The 
delegation had its picture taken with the 
Kayapo, naturally, whose macaw 
feather headdresses make them the most 
photogenic. Al Gore had his own film 
crew documenting this culmination of 
his transformation from Mr. Military 
Appropriations into an environmental 
visionary. It was a vision we found hard 
to believe. 

We had to get away. At dusk, we 
crossed the bridge to Niteroi, the Oak- 
land of Guanabara Bay. In a small 
garden house, we joined a gathering of 
Indians and rubber tappers who were 
passing around whiskey bottles filled 
with that bright orange acrid liquid — 
the vision vine of the iorest — ayahausca. 



A Kaxinawa shaman calls the spirits 
to the ceremony. As he chants softly, 
dogs at the far end of the town begin to 
bark, the sound coming closer. Soon 
every dog in town is yapping. Suddenly, 
a giant anaconda appears across a night 
sky of neon colors. Later a rubber 
tapper sings a soothing vision into our 
brains of an orange tree loaded with 
beautiful orange fruit shaking in the 
breeze. Then he sings of his niece, she's 
a daughter of the stream, pretty Janaina, 
still a little girl, nearly a woman. 

Then the Santo Daime people, urban 
adherents of the jungle juice, begin their 
ethereal ballads. In minor keys, they 
sing us into quiet green groves, to see 
the light and secrets of the imaginary 
forest. We go deeper and deeper into a 
night lit like day. As dawn comes, we 
talk of the visions we shared over a quick 
coffee and then head back into the 
maelstrom strangely revived. 

Tuesday, June 9: As the days go by 
there are more people in our apartment. 
We wake up beside strangers and 
scrounge through the fresh fruit for. 
breakfast. We're sleeping less and less. 
We stay up late and get up early. But it 
doesn't matter. CNN's camera com- 
mandoes are here, therefore the whole 
world is here, therefore this is, at least 
for now, the center of the world, 
therefore there is no time to sleep. And 
the less we sleep, the more this becomes 

Today, a busload of 50 Brazilian 
Indians drove, with military helicopter 
escort, to Riocentro to deliver a state- 
ment to the official U.N. delegations. 
Raoni, the Kayapo chief and friend of 

Sting, rode shotgun. His wooden lip 
disk and bottle-glass prescription glasses 
gave him the curious look of a modern 
primitive. But the Indians remained on 
the bus, while anthropologists and ac- 
tivists answered questions about them 
from the press. Just like in the good old 

Later back at the Global Forum, we 
run into chief Mario Juruna, an Indian 
elected to Congress to represent Rio 
during the waning days of the military 
dictatorship. He was arguing with offi- 
cials of the government's environmentzd 
protection agency who were insisting 
that he take down a jaguar-hide hung by 
one of his tribesman on the side of a tree 
hopefully to sell to a tourist. 

"What are you so concerned about?" 
Juruna protested. 

"This skin will turn to dust. It is 
nothing. Meanwhile you whites are 
killing all the trees, all the animals, all 
the fish. You are also killing Indians. 
Yet you worry about this skin, which is 
already dead." 

The nongovernmental organizations 
here have started acting like govern- 
ments. They're meeting late into the 
night, composing their own alternative 
treaties on forests, biodiversity, and 
cooperative agreement. No doubt they 
will fare at least as well as the official 
treaties. Not that is. 

The official organizers of this thing 
have set up a people's newspaper called 
Da Zi Bao. We're starting to compose 
messages for it like "I M N NGO, U R 
N NGO," "The market is the future of 

Hey, come back ! I have sole 
rights to Historical Truth ! 

ecology and ecology is the future of the 

On our way home, we stopped by the 
juice bar. 

"Here there's no ecology," the owner 
told us. "It's all artificial. This city, the 
capital of ecology, is all screwed up. For 
foreigners they make it easy. But for 
patriots not. It's a big bureaucracy." 

"Ecology, what does ecology mean?" 
asked his friend who owned a bookstore. 
"We'll still work 12 hours a day." 

"Brazil is a rich country," the juice 
man said. "But the administration is the 

"We need a dictator," the men agreed. 
"A Fujimori. A Perot!" they laughed. 

Friday, June 12: We have begun to 
hear ominous stories of reality returning 
to Rio. A story is going around about 
two policemen who dropped a bag of 
grass in an American environmentalist's 
lap. One of the cops pointed a gun at the 
criminal's head and ordered his friends 
to hurry to their hotel and bring back 
$1,000 if they wanted to see him alive. 
The terrified environmentalists hastily 

To make Rio safe for ecologists, 
police reportedly have rounded up street 
kids for the duration of the Earth 
Summit. Everybody wonders what hap- 
pened to them. Even so, each night we 
step over the bodies of sleeping people 
OH our way here and there. 

The facade of order seems to be 
crumbling before the big event is even 
over. Today, after witnessing the third 
car accident in the morning, we decided 

F^FNOiZESSEED lLJjai^h_E] 3C3 

it's time to bail out. The driver of the 
first car was bumped by a truck. He 
took a tire iron to the truck's windshield, 
then sped away. Meanwhile, our cab 
ran into a bus. 

We're beginning to think too much 
like Rio taixi drivers ourselves, making 
left hand turns from the right lane and 
vice versa. We're starting to take our- 
selves too seriously, believing our own 
monikers, and acting like rhetorical 
gunmen shooting down absurdities. We 
got into a verbal duel with a man from 
RAN, the Rainforest Action Network, 
over dinner tonight. We were cruel. We 
made him admit that he had never been 
to a rainforest. Then we revealed that 
Rio is in the midst of a rainforest. 

The Blade Runner came back from 
the bathroom announcing that some 
guy had asked him to take some space 
age navigation devices to the rubber- 
tappers. The hand-held receivers in- 
stantly calculate a position on earth via 
satellites orbiting above. The guy said 
they were used in the Gulf War to 
pinpoint bombing targets and maybe 

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the rubbertappers could use them to 
locate their territories in space. The 
Blade Runner said he would have to 
check with them next time they met on 
the astral. "Guns and Roses!" our cabbie 
yells at the top of his lungs as he squeals 
through a red light into the night. 

Monday, June 15: Some things have 
to be believed to be seen. An Inuit wise 
man said that on the cover of the Earth 
Parliament brochure. It could have been 

the motto of the Earth Summit. 

The Worldwatchers say they can see 
the future. "We can actually see what an 
ecologically sustainable global economy 
will look like," said Lester Brown. "And 
we could build it now with available 
technologies. But time is running out." 

You've got to believe it to see it. As 
the millenium approaches, people seem 
to be obsessed with deadlines for the end 
of the world. Not us. At Eco 92, we felt 

Nine Guides to Saving the Planet (Not!) 

Reviewed by Jon Christensen 

Pity the poor soul who embarks here. You could 
spend the rest of your life reading about saving the 
planet. I only wasted a summer. 

In these books, the reader floats uneasily in the 
ocean of facts that make up our ever more crowded 
world, with its temperature rising, its ozone layer 
balding, its biological and cultural diversity vanish- 
ing. Remarkably, for such a complicated and 
controversial subject as the future of the world, these 
books share many of the same views, with a couple of 
notable exceptions. Maybe that's why we need a sea 
change in environmental consciousness. 

The school of global ecological management rules. 
What it is. 

Commission on Environment and Development. 
Oxford University Press: Oxjord, 1987. 

This was the document that enshrined the notion 
of sustainable development and set the tack for the 
Earth Sunmiit. It reflects the positivist perspective of 
believers in the United Nations. Chaired by the 
vice-president of the Socialist International, Gro 
Harlem Brundtland, the commission reports that 
poverty is the principal cause of environmental 
degradation. Equity is the answer to the tragedy of 
the commons. But we must face the limits to growth. 
It is all there, the entire basic argument for 
worldwide solutions to the crisis of the environment 
and human misery. Comprised of blue-ribbon 
representatives from 28 countries, the commission 
eschews confrontation. It is not that there is one set 
of villains and another of victims, they say. While 
giving good lip service to public participation, the 

model promoted here is global governance. The 
Commission enshrines Public Hearings as its trade- 
mark. But one gets the worrying feeling that all of 
this might be a mere sideshow to the real 
consolidation of power under green regimes, not 
unlike the relationship of the Global Forum's 
eco-bazaar to the Earth Summit in Rio 92. 

Agenda 21. United Nations Conference on Envi- 
ronment and Development. United Nations Publi- 
cations: New York, 1992. 

UNCED's megaglobalmaniac agenda for the 21st 
century was to be signed by world leaders at the 
Earth Summit. This guide to Agenda 21 boils the 
lofty goals down to seven priority areas: Revitalizing 
Growth with Sustainability (The Prospering World!), 
Sustainable Living (The Just World!), Human 
Settlements (The Habitable World!), Efficient Re- 
source Use (The Fertile Worid!) , Global and 
Regional Resources (The Shared World!), Managing 
Chemicals and Waste (The Clean Worid!), and 
People Participation and Responsibility (The Peo- 
ple's World!). It sounds like an overly stimulated 
cross between the Comintern and Exxon. No doubt 
there are some good ideas here. But when it came 
down to negotiating the actual 800-plus-page agenda, 
all the controversial parts were simply bracketed. 
Finally, the document was adopted by acclamation 
^ans controversial sections and any budget commit- 
ments). Hailed as a blueprint for the planet, the 
vacuously wordy result goes to show that the future is 
not likely to be decided by consensus. What is 
interesting about this huge undertaking is what has 
been taken out since Our Common Future. Sections 
on population and the military were essentially 

gutted. The ongoing adaptation of Agenda 21 to 
political exigencies was captured on-line by Econet. 
Also available are the Rio Declaration (a short 
homily to U.N. cliches), Forest Principles, Treaty on 
Biological Diversity, and the Convention on Global 
Climate Change. 

3. BEYOND THE LIMITS: Confronting the 
Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future. 

Donella Meadows et ai Chelsea Green: Post Mills, 
Vermont, 1992 

Twenty years ago, in The Limits to Growth , the 
authors predicted that we only had 20 years to 
change our ways. Now the sequel to the international 
bestseller proclaims that we only have 20 years to 
change our ways. Would it be safe to predict that 20 
years from now the dire predictions will continue? Or 
will millenial fever die down when the planet soars 
past the year 2000? It seems unlikely. We've already 
overshot our limits, warn Meadows and company. 
And don't say we didn't warn you. This is the basic 
premise behind the whole worldwide debate for which 
the Earth Summit was supposed to be the apotheosis. 
The word comes from a computer program called 
Worid3. In computers, we trust. Tellingly for the 
times, however, the number crunchers conclude that 
saving the world will require changes in conscious- 
ness and spirituality. This is the mantra of the New 
Age Order, which seems destined to be ruled by 
ecotechnocrats using the rhetoric of religion. 

4. ONLY ONE WORLD: Our Own to Make and 
to Keep. Gerard Piel. W.H. Freeman: New York, 

The author was the founder oi Scientific Ameri- 
can . His earnest balancing act strives for the middle 
of the road, carefully weighing historical evidence, 
tendencies to environmental hysteria, and the 
apparent limits to management. But in the final 

F>i=^aEZEEiaEa kxiaF^h_a =bCD 


we could live forever and never have to 
sleep. But our bodies said fuck you. 
After the Earth Summit comes the 
global hangover. 

While the new ecocrats ride the green 
wave we all hope will never break, 
post-Earth Summit ecology seems to 
have become not a new way of thinking 
that will save us all but a somehow 
familiar terrain for old struggles. The 
security forces took a day at the beach 
today. The street kids were back on the 
streets. And it seemed the Earth Sum- 
mit would quickly fade into that cate- 
gory of megaspectacles and events pop- 
ulated by Earth Days past, Live Aid, 
and Hands Across Whatever. 

As Eco 92 broke over Rio, we 
wondered whether ecology might be 
spent. These ecologists were. The 
Bodyguard rounded us all into a cab to 
the airport and what seemed like the last 
flight out. 

The Special Agent woke from a 
nightmare haze somewhere over the 
Amazon. He had dreamed of global 
elephants, stomping through the jungle 

like they owned it, yet mortally terrified 
of the local mice they were squashing 
underfoot. Hyenas yapped from the 
sidelines and vultures craned their necks 
at the scene from their perches in the 

trees. This was the vision that he took 
from the Earth Summit. He knew which 
side he was on. 

—Jon Christensen, with Jeremy Narby and 
Glen Switkes 

analysis, Pie! demonstrates how the scientific estab- 
lishment has been the driving force behind the effort 
to enshrine ecological management as ihe ne plus 
ultra of global governance in the future. Naturally, 
since scientific technocrats have much to gain in that 
revolution, if we may be so bold as to call it that. 
Piel eschews the spiritual dimension in favor of hard 
facts. And he is more optimistic than many of the 
others. He puts his faith in economic growth and 
human development so he fears not a doubling of 
world population, projected for the end of the 21st 
century. But then we will have reached the limits, he 
asserts. We have not much more than a century to 
find our way to the steady-state, Piel warns. Listen 
good now. 

5. SAVING THE PLANET: How to Shape an 
Environmentally Sustainable Global Economy. 

Lester Brown et al. W. W. Norton: New York, 

Today's politically correct policy wonk hews to the 
WorldWatch line. The Institute seems perfectly 
positioned for the next think-tank wave inside the 
Washington belt way. /4;7rej I' American Enterprise 
Institute, nous. Worldwatchers were the darlings of 
the Earth Summit circuit (and they had the best 
lunch for the press). It all seems so simple when they 
speak. For the most part plain spoken and relatively 
jargon free, Worldwatch is widely read and quoted. 
We can see the future, they say. Best beheve. Place 
your bets. As advertisers are fond of saying, they 
say, this is a limited time offer. It will soon expire. 

Environment and Global Security. Gwyn Prins and 
Robbie Stamp. Earthscan: London, 1991. 

Another popular line for the most up-to-date 
pundits sounds more than a little like ecology for 
Rambo. If the environment is a security issue, why 

not let the security forces handle it? Gung-ho military 
men can now embrace their new mission: saving the 
earth. That way we can save the military too. The 
peace dividend should be invested in the environ- 
mental-security agenda, the authors argue. Prins, a 
security don at Cambridge, imagines a Green War 
Room, monitoring environmental crises worldwide. 
A computer program called CASSANDRA tracks 
these security threats. And a Green Police Force 
under the United Nations is deployed to enforce 
rules. This book was designed as a companion to a 
TV show by Ted Turner's Better World Society. And 
it reads Uke a TV show, with lots of pictures, graphs, 
computer screens and boxes. 

7. EARTH IN THE BALANCE: Ecology and 
(he Human Spirit. Senator Al Gore. Houghton 
Mifflin: New York, 1992. 

Here, the wanna-be environmental vice-president 
lays out his vision for the new age in excruciatingly 
earnest prose. Talk about family values. Gore 
analyzes the world as a dysfunctional family that 
must heal itself to save itself. He seems an apt 
personification of this moment in ecology. He seems 
to have fashioned his line in an encounter group of 
the worid's trendiest environmentalists. He rubs 
elbows with Ted and Jane, Shirley and the Dalai. 
This globe-trotting parliamentarian's bottom line is 
personal change. And his Global Marshall Plan for 
saving the environment is a market basket of hip 
proposals including carbon taxes, virgin materials 
fees, full life-cycle costs, efficiency standards 
throughout the economy. Look at how Mr. Military 
Appropriations has transformed himself into the 
Green Candidate! 

8. CHANGING COURSE: A Global Business 
Perspective on Development and Environment. 

Stephan Schmidheiny with the Business Council/or 

Sustainable Development. MIT Press: Cambridge, 

This is the new face of green capitalism. While the 
stereotype continues to be of industries keeping costs 
low, the smart money bets on passing on costs and 
garnering profits from environmental regulation. The 
themes of this new business environment: the polluter 
pays, open markets are crucial for sustainable 
development, environmental costs are internalized 
and reflected in prices and within the evaluations of 
capital markets. The report analyzes how these 
changes can be managed, and what the implications 
are for production, investment and trade. The BCSD 
calls for broadening and deepening the relationships 
between buyers and sellers and long-term partner- 
ships to boost both economic development and 
environmental standards in the developing world. So 
this is s'posed to be the new worid? 

ganized by Henri Acselrad. IBASE: Rio de Janeiro, 

This collection of essays by the Brazilian Institute 
of Social and Economic Analyses— the country's 
preeminent NGO— was produced to reflect the Third 
World, and more specifically Brazilian, perspective 
on the Earth Summit. It is an excellent example of 
the adaptation of the left-wing, anti-imperialist, 
popular movement line to the changing times. In an 
era when the rhetoric of ecology reigns supreme, this 
book and the Brazilian experience show that 
socialists are not going to be left out. The right is not 
wrong in pointing out how quickly red has turned 
green. Shifting rhetoric and jargon included in these 
essays provide a trenchant Third Worid take on 
current environmental debates about poverty and 
development, energy and timber, Indians and the 
Amazon, GATT and free markets, global govern- 
ance and the grass roots. 





Despite being cast as the lone villain in a global 
village, the United States had a surprising ally in 
opposing the controversial biodiversity treaty at the 
Earth Summit. Indigenous people from the tropical 
forests of the world took a similar position against 
the treaty in a meeting just before the official summit. 

Like the United States, the Indians want a 
guarantee of respect for "intellectual property 
rights" or patents. This convergence highlights a 
fatal flaw in the convention on biological diversity. 

The treaty will be signed by governments seeking 
control of burgeoning markets and profits in 
biotechnology. But it will bypass the only players 
who really count in the production and marketing 
process— indigenous people who know how to tap 
the great diversity of the tropical forests, and 
industries that can bring forest products to market. 

Treaty advocates in Rio cited what they call a 
clear-cut case of "bioiraperialism." The multina- 
tional pharmaceutical giant, Merck & Co., manufac- 
tures a treatment for glaucoma based on an alkaloid 
extracted from jaborandi, a bush found exclusively in 
the Amazon. Kayapo and Guajajara Indians, who 
first used the plant as a medicine, now harvest and 
sell the leaves to Merck under conditions some anthro- 
pologists describe as "near slavery." In Germany, the 
alkaloid is refined and made into eyedrops that 
Brazil, among other countries, imports. 

The most effective way to undercut this bioimperi- 
alism would be to make sure that those who first 
brought the jaborandi to the attention of interna- 
tional chemists— the Indians— receive patents and 
royalties. Instead, the biodiversity treaty compels the 
industrialized nations to compensate Brazil and other 
governments of developing nations where the raw 
materials are found. 

Advocates portray the treaty controversy as 
another round in the battle between North and 
South. The North seeks to protect biological patents 
and profits while insisting that the South preserve its 
tropical forests. And the South protests attempts to 
lock up its genetic resources in patents and preserves 
while insisting that the North share the wealth 
generated from these raw materials. 

Ironically, what this debate ignores is the new 
common ground that has emerged between the 
"North of the North"— the biotechnology and 
pharmaceutical industries of the developed world— 
and the "South of the South"— the indigenous 
people of the tropical forests. 

Roughly three-quarters of the compounds in the 
modem global pharmacopoeia originally derived 
from plants "discovered" through research on the 
use of plants by indigenous people. The value of such 
genetic resources is predicted to reach $50 billion by 
the year 2000. Yet it is estimated that only 2% of the 
plants in the Amazon alone have been studied by 
scientists. The indigenous people of the tropical 
forests hold the keys to much of the rest. 

Ethno-botanists and pharmacologists have only 
begun to tap the complex data base of indigenous 
empirical knowledge. When their knowledge is used 

for profit, indigenous people say they should have 
just as much right to a patent for "intellectual 
property rights"— knowledge of how to use or 
process a plant— as the pharmaceutical companies 
now enjoy. 

To be successful, a treaty on biodiversity would 
have to include not only the governments of the 
North and the South, but also indigenous people and 
companies that use their biological resources and 
knowledge. By giving all the power over biodiversity 
to governments— many of which, like Brazil, have a 
dismal track record of honoring either patents or 
indigenous property rights— the biodiversity treaty is 
set up to fail. 

U.S. objections to the treaty cover only half of the 
equation— the "intellectual property rights" of 
biotechnology companies. The other half involves 
recognizing indigenous people's demand to those 
same rights. 

Respecting the patent rights of both would provide 
a financial incentive for conserving and developing 
biodiversity at the ground level in the South. And 
royalties on patents would provide the return flow of 
hard cash from the North to the South that new 
markets for genetic wealth will generate. 

Many delegates protested that it is too late to 
amend the biodiversity treaty. But a fundamentally 
flawed treaty should not have been siped in a rush 



nULcSC Spin Columbus, move to designated color 

^H Gtve back all native land 

'"^y:^l Lose all slaves 

Mjl Receive molten gold throat treatment to 
^^ relieve treasure lust 

Busted lor incompetence Go back to Spam 

Cholera infected blankets meant 
tor native people kills all your soldiers 

Ak;ohol meant to stupefy native peoples 
intoxtcates crew, your ship sinks 

SSc Forced on white reservation for own good. 

GOAL; Try to get from 1492 lo 1992 keeping the 
mythical viston of brave Columbus Ihe discov- 
erer locked in your mind The winner receives 
an American flag, and a Support Ihe Troops 
bumper sticker 



to save the appearance that something was being 
accomplished at the Earth Summit. Mutual recogni- 
tion of property rights would do more concrete good 
than all the high-minded rhetoric about preservation 
and equity in the current biodiversity treaty. 

—Jon Christensen 


There has recently been a flurry of discussion 
around Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs, in the 
jargon of the day). At the recent Earth Summit the 
United States refused to sign a treaty on biodiversity 

because of proposed restrictions on patents of 
pharmaceuticals derived from plants. Curiously, 
however, the advocates (e.g. the anthropologists of 
Cultural Survival) are not limited to the profit- 
hungry corporations; there are those who see IPRs as 
a possible tool in giving indigenous people more 
control over the use of traditional lands. 

It is not an auspicious time for the idea of 
intellectual property. Computer programs and data 
which can be copied and distributed electronically; 
the ubiquitous copy machines and faxes; audio and 
video (re-)recording devices; and countries which are 

They say the '90s will make the '80s look like the '50s, but what with the '80s also 

looking like the '20s, which inandof themselves were quite similar to the '10s (which 

were nothing at ail like the '50s), we say the '90s will start out looking like the '60s, 

begin looking like the '40s after just one year, then wind up being just like the '70s. So . . . 




This summer, students, civil rights activists, environmentalists, ranchers, Tupper- 
ware activists, workers, computer programmers, colorists, post-modernists, 

industrialists, labor leaders, retired army generals, insurance fraud detectors, truck 
drivers, yuppies, and everyone else for that matter, will be piling into busses, 

freight trains, tractor trailers, and cattle trucks to make that ultimate symbolic and 
final direct action statement. In an ultimate act of coalition building, we will all 

unite to become one, one whole cosmic entity, one whole mass of metal and bodies 

in a pile at the bottom of the greatest canyon on earth. So let's shoot our war guns 
in '91 , send Columbus to Timbuktu in '92, and let's make North America . . . 

Human-Free by '93! 

not members of various treaty conventions on 
copyrights and the like (India, China, etc.); and the 
use of "sampling" in music and "reverse-engineering" 
in manufacturing have made a mockery of the exten- 
sion of property relations into the realm of intellectual 

Even within the United States there is much 
conflicting law and practice. The original concept of 
copyrights has its origin in the idea that ideas must 
not remain the exclusive property of the "inventor," 
for, as Jefferson wrote, "one may take another's 
idea without leaving the first poorer" (his analogy of 
one candle lighting another comes to mind). Such 
"ownership" was limited to the author's life plus a 
fixed number of years; patent law explicitly requires 
the public statement of the invention and (often) the 
best way of producing the object, and allows the 
inventor a limited period of control. Some of the 
basic concepts of patents included denying patents 
for natural products, for inventions which were 
obvious or commonplace, and for other people's 

Recently, however, there has been a burgeoning of 
US patents and copyrights on more subtle concepts: 
processes and methods, as well as naturally occurring 
chemicals and substances. People (usually corpora- 
tions, or their proxies) have recently been awarded 
patents on algorithms (which previously have been 
regarded as "discovered" rather than invented), and 
on "new" biological organisms and species (which 
are, in fact, only new combinations of previously 
existing genetic material). The relentless drive for 
profit and control has even led to such absurdities as 
the "look-and-feel" law suits of Apple and Microsoft 
dealing with concepts of controlling computers which 
neither party devised (Xerox's Palo Alto Research 
Center has that distinction). And in an apparent 
reversal of the idea of not patenting natural products, 
two corporations have been granted patents on 
chemicals (one derived, one synthesized) from the 
Brazilian Neem tree. Many of the uses of chemicals ft'om 
such plants have long been known to natives of the 
area for exactly the same reasons; granting patents 
would seem to violate the principle that common- 
place uses may not be patented. Although the US has 
always regarded the rest of the planet as its hunting 
ground, this usurpation of indigenous discoveries 
would also seem to be patenting someone else's 

Some recent advocates of IPRs argue that because 
many of the biological products are derived from 
plants known by indigenous people (and sometimes 
used by them for the same purpose) the original 
"discoverers" (and often inventors, for the use of 
these drugs is often the result of generations of 
effort) should be rewarded commensurately. Some 
have also argued that food crops may be seen this 
way: the result of centuries of refinement and 
experimentation by indigenous people around the 
world. Some even see this archaic legal concept as a 
possible reinforcement of these people in their fight 
for survival and control over their lands. 

Perhaps... but this begs the question of whether 
such "rights" are legitimate. It can be argued thai 
even as such ideas are being hailed in the "third'' 
world, they are being shown as outmoded impedi- 
ments in the techno-sphere: information moves 
faster, and with more ambiguous ownership all the 
time. Indeed, given that human knowledge is such an 
enormously socialized (and historical) creation, no 

invention can be said to be independent. The need 
for capital to harness such creations to maice a profit 
is indisputable, and we should never forget the 
crucial question: ''quo vadisV ("who gains?"). 

Nor am I hopeful about the possibilities of 
enforcing such putative rights as may be won by 
whatever collective group. The ability to enforce 
such contracts is a precise measure of social power; 
groups with no power will find those rights 
insupportable. Countries like Brazil, with its long 
history ofmistreatment of indigenous peoples, no less 
than the US, which has a long and almost unbroken 
record of ignoring its treaties with North American 
Indians, are not promising arenas for indigenous 
people to play out power relations. When one side 
writes the laws, owns the courts, and licenses the 
lawyers, as well as allows the vast budgets of the 
corporations free play, the other side, ev^n if it is 
able to buy a few attorneys, cannot be said to be an 
equal. Bakunin's comment is relevant: "The law, in 
its majestic impartiality, forbids the rich as wellas the 
poor from sleeping under bridges, begging, and 
stealing bread." 

Casting the importance of nature in terms of 
property relations strengthens the abhorrent concept 
that wilderness and primal nature deserve protection 
because they are— or might be— useful. 

There are further problems with imposing this 
western model on traditional societies: just as some 
North American tribes were never granted recogni- 
tion by the US government because they had no 
leaders, the requirements of marketing and legal 
representation of IPRs will impose unique stresses on 
indigenous communities. Given movements towards 
control of traditional music and copyrighting mate- 
rials, etc., the only aspects of traditional life that will 
survive may well be corporation's names, and a few 
patented commodities. Imagine a scenario in which 
some village elder sues another for copyright 
violations for performing a traditional song; perhaps 
in the name of ancestral spirits. 

Such talk of "rights" also ignores some crucial 
questions about what the concept means: such 
"rights" are certainly not immutable things handed 
to us by nature; to the extent that there are any 
rights, it is because the common folk have fought for 
them. They were not, and never will be, given to us 
by benevolent masters. Those rights have always 
proved to be worthless in the absence of people 
willing to defend themselves (often outside of any 
legal process). 

To frame our thinking about the exploitation of 
the other parts of the world in terms of ethics among 
property owners is to ignore the imperative of 
business: to make money. To try to use the very tools 
of business (law, property rights) to stop business, 
can't work. 

It seems most unlikely that the road to human 
freedom and dignity passes through a courtroom and 
patent office. I regret that I have no better ideas for 
helping the poor people of such "developing" parts 
of the world as Brazil, but the idea that the concept of 
property, extended to more parts of the world, and 
to new "objects," will help preserve the parts not yet 
destroyed by the world capitalists, is not a sensible 
one. Perhaps this can be a tool of limited use, but to 
present it uncritically does us all a disservice. 

—Primitivo Morales 
See Cultural Survival, Summer 1991, "Intellectual Property 
Rights" for more on IPRs. 


Maybe this is not a very auspicious time (or place) 
to speak in favor of intellectual property. Of course, 
the argument could be extended. Across the political 
spectrum, we seem to be facing the 21st century with 
ideas inherited from the 19th century. It's fun to run 
in ideological circles, dancing with romanticism, 
communism, anarchism, nihilism, capitalism, post- 
this-and-thatism, careering from optimism to pes- 
simism and back again, and throwing up our hands 

"Sampling" in music and 
"reverse engineering" in 
manufacturing have made a 
mockery of the extension of 
property relations into the 
realm of intellectual creation. 

when pressed for direction. But have we learned 
anything in the 20th century? Perhaps something 
about pragmatism. 

In the first place, the argument in favor of 
recopizing the intellectual property rights of indi- 
genous people was made by them, not us. Of course, 
one can trace the concept's history to the door of 
capitalism. But it is a system most indigenous people 
have trucked with quite extensively over the last 
century or more. 

Intellectual property rights may be an argument of 
the moment. More likely, indigenous people see 
property as a tool they can grasp to increase their 
own power. In any case, the demand for intellectual 
property rights emerges logically from their demands 
for recognition of their property rights in land as 
well, which have also been an inconvenience to some. 

Now they seek recopition of their knowledge, which 
until lately usually has been devalued even as it has 
been used by profiteers. 

Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies such as 
Merck and national governments such as Costa Rica 
are quickly cutting deals leaving out the local people 
who live in the tropical forests that are the sources of 
much of the worid's biodiversity. And why not? The 
messy world of people vying for life in some 
backwoods is really just so much trouble. You're so 
right. There are too many practical problems with 
identifying the "inventors" of traditional knowledge, 
not to mention compensating often fractious commu- 

But indigenous people have an inconvenient way of 
asserting themselves, especially it seems as we 
confront the millennium with such an intense 
love-hate relationship with technology and the nation 
state. Even as many late 20th century thinkers 
continue to see indigenous people somehow repre- 
senting a state of society outside the market system, 
their demand for property rights presents a nagging 

Perhaps global positions— such as worshipping or 
demonizing the market in all cases— attempt to reach 
too far. Property rights can be a basic means of 
preserving local control. But property rights are 
clearly not a panacea, as history shows. 

Information— and for that matter all kinds of 
property— may want to be free, as they like to say in 
Silicon Valley at the end of the 20th century. But 
property has costs and consequences and if you're 
lucky maybe benefits and profits. As a writer, 
marketing my words, I stand on the side of 
intellectual property rights, even though I will write 
for free. There are more important things than 
money and property. But that doesn't mean we have 
to turn our backs on them. 

—Jon Christensen 

,^ © ,.^ M£LSoN 

graphic by I.B. Nelson 

PE^aszEsaEa kiJOE=sh-a 3CD 

Judi Bari was born in Baltimore in 1949. 
She attended the University of Maryland, 
where she majored in anti-Vietnam War 
rioting. Since college credit is rarely given for 
such activities, Judi was soon forced to drop 
out of college with a political education but no 
degree. She then embarked on a 20-year career 
as a blue collar worker. During that time she 
became active in the union movement and 
helped lead two strikes — one of 1 7, 000 grocery 
clerks in the Maryland/D.C. /Virginia area 
(unsuccessful, smashed by the union bureau- 
crats) and one (successful) wildcat strike 
against the U.S. Postal Service at the 
Washington D. C. Bulk Mail Center. 

In 1979 Judi moved to Northern Califor- 
nia, got married and had babies. After her 
divorce in 1988, she supported her children by 

working as a carpenter building yuppie houses 
out of old-growth redwood. It was this 
contradiction that sparked her interest in Earth 

As an Earth First! organizer, Judi became 
a thorn in the side of Big Timber by bringing 
her labor experience and sympathies into the 
environmental movement. She built alliances 
with timber workers while blockading their 
operations, and named the timber corporations 
and their chief executive officers as being 
responsible for the destruction of the forest. 

In 1990, while on a publicity tour for 
Earth First! Redwood Summer, Judi was 
nearly killed in a car-bomb assassination 
attempt. Although all evidence showed that the 
bomb was hidden under Judi's car seat and 
intended to kill her, police and FBI arrested her 

(and colleague Darryl Chemey) for the bomb- 
ing, saying that it was their bomb and they 
were knowingly carrying it. For the next eight 
weeks they were subjected to a police orches- 
trated campaign in the national and local 
press to make them appear guilty of the 
bombing. Finally the district attorney declined 
to press charges for lack of evidence. To this 
day the police have conducted no serious 
investigation of the bombing, and the bomber 
remains at large. 

Crippled for life by the explosion, Judi has 
returned to her home in the redwood region and 
resumed her work in defense of the forest. She 
and Darryl are also suing the FBI and other 
police agencies for false arrest, presumption of 
guilt, and civil rights violations. Judi now 
lives in Willits, California with her two 


An Interview with Judi Bari 

Chris Carlsson: Where do you 
stand on the Work Ethic? 

Judi Bari: Totally against it: It is 
absolutely sick! 

CC: What do you think of as 
"human nature" when it comes to 
work and useful activities? How does 
the existing order encourage or ob- 
struct this "nature"? How does work- 
place organizing tap into this "na- 

JB: I think people like to work if work 
is not alienated, not artificially con- 
strued by the system that makes it pure 
hell, that goes against every instinct. 
But I think that work, meaning like 
what you need to do to provide suste- 
nance, that in itself as a concept is not 
something that people mind. I think that 
working ridiculous amounts of hours 
including 8 a day or 40 a week is not 
"natural," but I think working is some- 
thing that's natural and enjoyable and I 
think that without any work people in 
general would not feel comfortable. But 
work needs to be completely redefined 
from what it is right now. Now it is pure 
oppression. What did you say, 80% of 
work is unnecessary? Absolutely 
TRUE! Not only is it absolutely unnec- 
essary, but the method by which it's 
organized is horrible. It goes against 
everything, you have to suppress every 
instinct of enjoyment that you have in 

your being to go and put yourself in one 
of these stupid jobs, [laughter] 

CC: And workplace organizing? 

JB: Hey it makes work fun. I only 
had one job when 1 actually liked the job 
itself and that was being a carpenter. I 
enjoyed the job, I enjoyed being able to 
build something that was beautiful and I 
was proud of myself for being able to 
read the plans and figure it out. But all 
the other jobs I had I hated. Physically 
standing at a cash register, or unloading 
a truck or whatever, or standing at a 
bottling line, making the same motion 
over and over all day long. The jobs 
totally sucked, but organizing was really 
fun. It gave me something to think 
about and do at work. I'm not saying 

You have to suppress every 
instinct ... to put yourself 
in one of these stupid jobs . . 
. . Working ridiculous num- 
bers of hours, including 8 a 
day and 40 a week, is 
not "natural." 

"would the end result of organizing 
under capitalism be an enjoyable job?" 
— No! We have to completely rearrange 
the way we work and what we call work 
before it would be enjoyable. But what 
do we do in the meantime while we're 
waiting for the revolution? The only 
way to be able to stand a job is to raise 
shit there. That's just personal experi- 
ence, that's not political theory, [laugh- 

I [had] a job at a post office factory. 
Everybody worked under one roof and 
the conditions were outrageous. It was 
85% black, mostly from the inner city, 
right across the Maryland line in the 
inner suburbs. We didn't even bother 
with any of the three different unions or 
their meetings. We did direct action on 
the workroom floor, put out an outra- 
geous newsletter [Postal Strife] that was 
real funny, lampooning management. 
We weren't allowed to strike against the 
government, that was illegal and we'd 
get fired, so we had a "walk-in" where 
we met on both shifts and wcilked into 
the manager's office. We had sick-outs 
and slow-downs and trash-ins and 
sabotage days, and we got control of the 
whole factory — it also took about one- 
and-a-half years. It peaked in a wildcat 
strike which was actually successful. 

[Postal Strife] wasn't just reporting on 
things. . . it was instigating things. 


F^S^aEZESSEE] hJjaEbh_E] 3CD 

When we first started to get power, at 
one point "Miz Julie" decided to be 
generous and offer us all a Xmas party. 
So on company time we were forced to 
attend this party. We weren't allowed to 
go outside and smoke pot or to go out to 
lunch, and this was her big generous 
thing. Then it turned out that it was 
illegal, because on company time she 
wasn't allowed to do that because we 
would have to work all this overtime 
because the machinery didn't work, so 
she was going to get in a lot of trouble. 
So she changed her mind and decided it 
was off the clock, and she was going to 
dock us all for two hours because she 
had forced us to go to this party. People 
were really pissed. She called in the 
union to break the news to them, to tell 
them "this is the problem, and what can 
we do about it?" and the union rep said 
"oh, it's ok, you can have the hour." But 
then Miss Julie realized that that 
wouldn't mean anything. So she did 
something completely illegal in a plant 
with a recognized bargaining unit, she 
called in the leaders of Postal Strife [our 
newsletter/group] because she knew 
that if we didn't agree to it that it wasn't 
going to fly. We came in as dirty as we 
could and sprawled on her white 
couches. She said she wanted her hour 
back, and we said "well, what are you 

Take Stock 
in America! 



going to give us? How about 15 minute 
breaks?" We had no authority to bargain 
at all. So she said, "OK, I can't officially 
give you 15 minute breaks but unoffi- 
cially we won't make you go back, we'll 

give you an extra 5 minutes, but it'll be 
under the table." We said we can't talk 
for people on the shop floor, and we had 
to talk to them and see what they would 
say. So we walk out. Then she discovers 
that she's made another mistake: it's 
totally illegal to bargain with us when 
there's an exclusive bargaining agent. 
So she's pleading with us not to tell 
anyone, and we wrote the whole story 
up and drew a picture of her crying, 
"please give me my hour back!" [laugh- 
ter] We really began to erode their power 
and gain power way before we gained 
official power. 

CC: That's a question I always find 
interesting. Don't you think there's 
actually more power at that moment 
than what you had with formal con- 

JB: No, the most power we got was 
afterwards, because first we did this 
actual real work — there was a peak and 
an ebb — first there was this peak of real 
live worker control because — We had a 
quote of the month in the paper, which 
was "the way I look at overtime, is the 
first 8 hours I got to put up with them, 
the last 2 hours they got to put up with 
me." That really was the truth. They 
couldn't get anyone to do any work on 
overtime, and not much the rest of the 
day when they were giving us overtime. 

Counter-demonstrator at July 21, 1990 Redwood Summer rally in Fort Bragg, Calif. 


,fto mm- 

One time the safe was locked (with our 
paychecks) and we were on night shift, 
and the only key was at Miss Julie's 
house, she lived in Virginia, so we 
formed a posse in the middle of the 
workroom floor, and we were about to 
walk out and drive to her house at 1 1 :30 
at night, and they suddenly found the 
key. [laughter] We had real raw power, 
OK? When we had the strike and after 
we walked out on strike the union fell 
apart and we got the control of the 
union. That's when we really got power. 
Then we had the official power, and the 
respect of the workers, which was based 
on real direct action and real self- 
empowerment, so we started substan- 
tially changing the working conditions, 
including sneaking a Jack Anderson 
reporter in, and got two national articles 
written about the place. 

I didn't have to work anymore. I used 
to spend my whole day on the shop 
floor. I used to have to sneak out to do 
these little things, but then when I was 
Shop Steward I could spend the whole 
day, 8 hours a day, raising hell, it was 
great! I got paid for it! We really 
changed the working conditions, we 
changed the personnel, and they weren't 
getting away with shit. And what hap- 
pened is that the working conditions got 

I was the Chief Shop Steward and the 
coalition began settling for things and 
selling out and things began to fall 
apart, so now we worked 40 hours a 
week instead of 60-80, the supervisors 
weren't as nasty to us, it wasn't as 
dangerous and the new people that came 
in started to be more conservative. 
Some of the real radicals started to be 

:a ^m 

less radical. I knew, the manager didn't 
know, but I knew that we no longer had 
the support on the shop floor. So I was 
living on a shell, I could get this guy to 
give up grievances because he thought 
that I could mobilize the workroom floor 
with the snap of a finger. The fact is I 
couldn't anymore, because people had 
gotten way conservative because work- 
ing conditions were better. I quit to 
move to California before he figured out 
that we didn't really have rank and file 
power anymore. But we really did, and 
the peak was when we assumed official 
power after the strike, before it got so 
soft that people got conservative. 

CC: In retrospect, do you imagine 
you should have gone in a different 
direction after you got official power 
to avoid this "bourgeois-ification"? 

JB: I don't know. The problem is that 
our goals were limited. It doesn't matter 
how good we were, the biggest thing we 
were asking for was better working 
conditions for our factory that employed 
800 people. We weren't asking to over- 
throw the wage system, we didn't have a 
political context in which we were 
operating, other than using very radical 
tactics to win workers' demands. Maybe 
it would have moved someplace else, 
maybe another factory that we were 
working with, or maybe it would be 
another issue, but we would have had to 
have some kind of thing that went 
beyond those narrow demands. 

CC: Because those are satisfiable, 

JB: Yeah, without changing the basic 
problem, y'know, which is this whole 
industrial organization, etc. 

CC: Did you keep in touch with 
this place after you left? Did they go 
through a big wave of automation and 

JB: I still have some friends there, 
but no, it's still the same old machinery. 
They combined some of the functions, 
but it's basically the same structure. All 
of the gains that were made were all 
lost. The bulk mail wave of restructur- 
ing was in the '70s, I don't know what 
happened in the '80s except that we lost 
all the gains. All the bulk mail centers 
had these really bad working conditions, 
and throughout the history of them 
there were lots of spontaneous walkouts, 
that never led to better conditions. The 
difference was that our effort did. There 
were 3 places that went on strike when 
we did: New York, Richmond Califor- 
nia and us, and we were the only ones 
that didn't get fired. The rest of them all 
got fired. They lost their demands. 
Since we were not even part of a larger 
postal group, we weren't even part of a 
TDU [Teamsters for a Democratic 
Union]. We were just a single factory, 
we communicated with the other ones 
that went on strike, but there wasn't any 
larger organization at all, there wasn't 
even a way of spreading it throughout 
the postal workers, much less expanding 
it to larger demands. 1 think that's one of 
the reasons why it was so easy and 
successful, is that it was such a small 
movement with limited demands. But 
that doesn't mean it wasn't a good thing 
to do because it gave people the experi- 
ence of successful collective action, 
probably the first in their lives. 

CC: Maybe their last. 

JB: Yeah, right. Now it's this legend, 
this thing that happened in the past, and 
everything settled back to the way it 
used to be . . . and the postal workers 
have lost a lot of ground. The postal 
workers had a nationwide wildcat strike. 
It was the most recent nationwide wild- 
cat and that's when they won collective 
bargaining rights, believe it or not, it was 
1970. They didn't even have integrated 
unions in 1970. The US Post Office had a 
black union and a white union! Isn't that 
amazing? There was a spontaneous rebel- 
lion against really bad conditions, but 
back in 1970 the postal workers had a lot 
of power, a lot more than they knew, 
■because at any one time 25 % of the U.S.'s 
monetary supply was tied up in the 
mail, OK? When they called in the 
Army to break the strike (the postal 
workers have an inordinate number of 

Pi^aEZESSED hJjaFSlL.El 3C] 

Army veterans because they give you a 
10 point preference on the test if you're a 
veteran), a lot of them were sympathetic 
because of the other Army people that 
worked there. So the Army people that 
were brought in — well, the workers 
sabbed [sabotaged] the stuff as much as 
they could, and a lot of the Army people 
contributed to sabbing it, and fucked 
everything up. So they got really fucked 
up in a very short time, it was like a one 
week strike, and the whole mail was tied 
up in knots, and a big piece of the 
monetary supply, so they had to settle 
the strike, and they recognized bargain- 
ing power in 1970 for a national union. 
I don't know of any other national union 
that was first recognized in 1970, or 
even anywhere near that. Now, with fax 
machines and electronic funds transfer, 
the postal workers have much less 
economic power than they did in 1970. 
They wouldn't even have the capacity to 
pull off such a strike if they wanted to. 

CC: Get ready for the privatization 
of mail. 

JB: Oh, absolutely! 

CC: The fact is that most of what 
we do is a waste of time. Our politics 
has to really emphasize the useless- 
ness of work. That has to be upfront. 

JB: We really do our political work in 
different cultures. Yours is one that is at 
the forward end of the techological 
bullshit, in the evolution of the society 
from industrial to technological. But I'm 
working with retro, with what's left of 
the old industrial proletariat. So 1 think 
there's different value systems at play. 
The work ethic is very important. One 
of the reasons why the timber workers 
will relate to me more than most 
environmentalists is because they know 
I am by career a blue collar worker. The 
idea of not working is really offensive to 
them, in fact, that's the big thing they 
always say to the hippies, "why don't 
these people get a job?" So what do we 
say? "Cut your job, get some hair!" 
[laughter] 1 live in a place where they 
shaved hippies' dreadlocks in jail, I 
mean, what year is this? We're living in 
a time warp. Really, we're talking about 
different centuries here, certainly dif- 
ferent decades. 

Med-o: Chris and I have talked about 
this a lot: How do you organize 
people to get rid of their jobs? How 
do workers get organized with their 
main purpose to eliminate their jobs? 

JB: There needs to be some other 
vision of what there is to do. 1 don't 
really see us at that stage yet. We know 

this is wrong. We know that this is NOT 
it, whatever it is, it's not this, [laughter] 
And I think people can relate to that, 
and it gives them room for their own 
creativity. I think 1 have a problem with 
organizers feeling like they have to have 
all the answers, NOW. Part of the 
problem is that we have to think collec- 
tively and figure it out, and it has to be 
based on our collective experience. And 
we haven't even had that experience yet! 
CC: How do you feel about the 
average person's ability to participate 
in a process like that? I think every- 
body's got a great capacity for 
thought, but I don't think very many 
people have much experience or 
practice or natural native talent for 
cooperative group processes. 

JB: Well, I don't know about native 
talent, it's certainly been bred out of us. 
It's a problem trying to organize in this 
society — 1 don't think there's ever been a 
society as brainwashed as this one. The 
whole workplace, the way it's set up is 
designed to make you into an automa- 
ton. It's hard but those little glimmers 
that we do get ARE so much more fun 
and so much more fulfilling than any- 
thing anybody's done in their life. 

CC: A lot of time the things that 
cause people to band together in 
union, whether it's a legal institution 
or not (I personally favor the infor- 
mal approach) — I think a lot of times 
the impulses that get people motivat- 
ed to take that kind of action are 
somewhat conservative. They're 
worried, they're afraid, they want to 
defend themselves. They're not really 
looking at the big picture, and saying 
"well, jeez, this whole way of life is 
ridiculous and some bigger change 
has to happen." Now I'm not saying 
some kind of religious transformation 
has to take place across the planet — 
all of a sudden everybody agrees that 
it's all bullshit and let's stop and do 
something else, but I don't see much 
hope for a political movement based 
on worker organizing that doesn't 
have at least its eyes set on that goal. 

JB: Yeah because the whole way we 
work is ridiculous. People are really 
alienated from the way that they work 
because it's ridiculous. 

CC: People are pretty afraid to 
embrace that kind of vision. 

JB: Because you don't just start from 
that. You have to start where people 
are. You have to have one eye on where 
people are and one eye on where we 
wanna be. To try to start from way 

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here, that may scare people oft. But 
after they have a Uttle experience with 
self-empowerment through a move- 
ment, then more broad ideas come up 
and begin to be discussed, and people 
become more open to more ideas when 
they start seeing change and start seeing 
that they're able to make change. It 
doesn't mean you have to start within 
these little narrow confines, but you 
can't be so miles out in front of people 
that they can't relate to what you're 

CC: I agree with that, but often 
times an idea as simple and direct as 
"most of the work we do is a waste of 
time and no one should do it" is 
treated as an out-of-bounds idea. 

JB: No, people love it! Everybody 
agrees. But after that idea comes, you 
have to ask "can we do anything about 
CC: Right. 

JB: I guess that's where it's an 
out-of-bounds idea, it's that they don't 
think that there's anything they can do 
about it. I think that's because people 
haven't experienced collective action. 

CC: You said that we have to go to 
where people are. Now that's often a 
code expression for bread and butter 

JB: No, I didn't say we have to go 
where people are, I said we have to keep 
one eye on where people are and one eye 
on where we wanna be, that's different 
than saying we have to go where people 

CC: You're still in a perspective 
where you're making certain analyti- 
cal judgments about where people 
are, and trying to reach to that 
position from another position that 
you don't think they're ready for yet. 

JB: No, it's not that I don't think 
they're ready for my vision of a perfect 
world, since I don't even know my 
vision yet. I gotta interact with the 
people to find out WHAT we are 
collectively capable of doing. It's not just 
my ideas to be imposed on the group, 
it's that we're gonna get this group 
together and see where our collective 
ideas take us. 

CC: The incredible power of recu- 
peration. . . That's why I keep stum- 
bling around these questions of vi- 
sion, what's going to inspire people in 
a passionate way to get out of the 
box? The logic of immediate issues, 
whatever they might be, tends to be 
rooted in a conservative impulse, a 
defensive strategy. The notion that 
people are gonna somehow engage in 

a "process" around that, and that's 
going to lead to a day when they have 
a broader, more assertive life. . . I 
don't see why one would lead to the 
other at all. 

JB: OK. Well, let's look at it up here, 
because this is a different situation, it's 
much less a traditionzd workerist kind of 
thing. What we have is this dual 
economy and dual culture — marijuana, 
timber, hippies, stompers, so we have 
these two kind of parallel things. The 
most significant thing that this small 
group that I work with has done is to 
link the two. We've got this back-to-the 
-land movement grown up 20 years, a 
whole generation older now with adult 
kids. People have experimented with 
"simple lifestyles," and ended up in 
hippie palaces. There's kind of this 
vision of ecotopia, of a society that lives 
in harmony with the earth and with each 
other, and offers a new way of relating 
and organizing the whole of society, 
right? It's a larger vision. The shorter 
thing we've fought life and death battles 
over is the survival of the ecosystem — 
really trial by fire out here. We've won 
some really important victories, but by 
and large the county's been clearcut. 
Now what's happening is that the timber 
companies are leaving, they're done, 
they're packing up and leaving. Nor- 
mally what happens at this stage is 
gentrification comes in, the wineries 
and the yuppies, and all that stuff, and 
marching behind that comes real estate 

So now we're at a turning point, and I 
am absolutely not predicting that this is 
going to happen because we're up 
against tremendous forces, including 
the fact that they're willing to kill and 
use sophisticated psychological opera- 
tions and all this other stuff. So now 
we're at this place where the timber 
companies are leaving, and what is 
there in their place? Well there's this big 
movement now for some economy based 
on restoration. The money of course is 
going to have to come from outside, 
because our resource base has been 
removed via clearcutting. There's lots of 
poverty pimp money being thrown for 
other things, they're talking about 
spending $200 million to buy forest 
parcels from Hurwitz, and we say he 
doesn't own it, he crashed an S&L to get 
the money to work with Michael Milkin 
to take over Pacific Lumber, so debt- 
for-nature swap — don't give any money 
to Hurwitz, the same money you've got 
to pay off Hurwitz should go to the 
community to fund an economy based 

on restoring the forest. In the process of 
restoration there's some products that 
can come out of it, but I don't think 
there's enough to base an economy on. 
But some kind of alternative economy 
— Willits calls itself the Solar Capital of 
the World, and they have all these little 
solar experiments, and solar cars. Then 
there's the marijuana economy, and the 
hemp movement. So now we're at this 
juncture where it can either go the 
traditional way of moving into gentrifi- 
cation or we could seize the initiative 
here at this particular juncture to turn 
away from the traditional capitalist 
model and try to find another way to do 
it. Then I think it could be theoretically 
possible. I think the only way it could 
happen, what I think I got almost killed 
for, is you've got all this timber land 
that's totally trashed out, and if it isn't 
held in trust for a long time the whole 
ecosystem is going to collapse. The only 
way that [getting the land into trust] 
could happen would be if the county 
used its power of eminent domain to 
seize all the corporate timberlands. . . 
Well, I guess they'd come in with the 
tanks, it would never happen, would it? 

CC: So what's going to excite peo- 
ple now? Certainly it's not because 
they're workers that they're going to 
get involved with anything. On the 
other hand, as we know perfectly 
well, the real social power that exists 
to really fuck with the system is found 
in the workplace. So there's strategic 
power there, but it's not necessary 
that there be this psychological iden- 
tification . . . It's basic to Wobbly 
philosophy and to most proponents of 
labor organizing, that you have to 
somehow act on your social function 
as a worker, as opposed to thinking 
about taking advantage of the strate- 
gic power at work as a part of 
something else — 

JB: We worked with the workers on 
workplace issues, and we formed alli- 
ances on broader issues, and pretty soon 
the workers that we were defending on 
the PCB spills were defending us on the 
destruction of the forest. So the people 
in Earth First! who say I'm a sell-out for 
wanting to work with workers in extrac- 
tive industries, well, I call it the "Future 
Ex-Logger Coalition" because by the 
time that they're ready to work with us, 
they've had it with the job. 
- CC: So do you think they really 
embrace an ecological agenda? 

JB: Oh well they certainly do, yeah. 
In fact, interestingly ... when I inter- 


viewed workers I asked about working 
conditions. But what made them begin to 
question the company in many cases were 
sentiments like "I went out to my favorite 
spot and it was gone. You know I used to 
take my son fishing, and now there's no 
more fish." One of the episodes at the 
Fort Bragg rally was the famous dramatic 
confrontation in the middle of town when 
the Earth First! rally comes face to face 
with the yellow-ribbon-waving-crazed- 
drunk-alcoholic-abusive ranting and 
raving, and we offer them the micro- 
phone. These three loggers get up there 
and the first two just rage, and then the 
third one gets up, and he's 5th generation 
with the whole accent, and the whole trip, 
(we didn't know him, he was not a plant, 
he was somebody we'd never worked with 
before), and he said "You all know me, 
I grew up with you." He addressed the 
loggers, and he said "I used to log in the 
summer and fish in the winter, and now 
there's no more logs and no more fish. I 
never wanted to put my family on wel- 
fare, but I put my family on welfare be- 
cause I can't do this anymore, I can't 
keep destroying this place I love." And he 
said he was going to dedicate his life to 
opening a recycling center, so he can 
have right livelihood. There is a group 
of ex-timber workers who want to do 
some kind of reparations and right live- 
lihood. The coalition of people who criti- 
cized us from the environmental move- 
ment, who criticized us for advocating 
the interests of extractive industry work- 
ers, they don't understand what we're 
doing at all. Not in any way, shape or 
form are we advocating traditional 
unionism, even though we had Georgia 
Pacific workers wearing IWW buttons to 
work. These [logging] companies are 
almost done, they're outta here. Right 
now Georgia Pacific's redwood section is 
less than 1 % of the overall operation. 
It's basically a pulp and paper company, 
primarily based in the south. Then they 
have this little Western Division up here 
that does redwood, and it consists of one 
big mill. Before they would recognize a 
Wobbly union they would definitely close 
the mill. There's just no question that we 
don't have a single chance in organizing 
for traditional labor goals. We're looking 
at an industry that's on its way out. What 
we're talking about is what we're going 
to do after it leaves, and how we're going 
to seize control of our community so that 
we CAN do what we think needs to be 
done after it leaves. That's the broader 
question that we're working on, is com- 
munity control of our community so that 
it won't be turned into yuppies, and the 

timber workers won't be displaced. Right 
now we're controlled by out-of-state 

CC: I wonder how you imagine 
controlling the outside capital that 
might be coming in? 

JB: I don't think you can solve all the 
problems without a revolution! We 
advocated for the workers who got PCB 
dumped on them, we advocated for the 
worker who got killed in a Ukiah mill 
and got criminjd charges brought 
against Louisiana-Pacific, we inter- 
viewed workers about their working 
conditions, but that's the narrower 
thing, and we're also talking about this 
broader thing of resource destruction, of 
out-of-town evil corporation. The alli- 

ance with workers based on workplace 
issues has been translated into a larger 
question of the resource base, and the 
height that it got to was demanding the 
eminent domain seizure of the timber 
industry by the county. 

CC: Socialism in Mendocino Coun- 

JB: You know what happened after 
we did that, besides that they tried to kill 
me for it . . . We started from workplace 
problems, we went to resource destruc- 
tion, and then we started to demand 
eminent domain seizure. That was cer- 
tainly taking it into a broader context! 

by Chris Carlsson and Med-o, April 20, 
J 992 in Mendocino County. 





Capitalism, Racism and Entropy 

Dedicurse: this essay is dedicated 
to the hope that, if there is an afterlife, 
Daniel Moynihan, Mickey Kaus, and 
all the other "black underclass patholo- 
gy" demagogues will spend it on 
welfare in a public housing project, 
trying to find a job and to avoid getting 
beaten or shot by the police. 

The Heart of Whiteness 

Judeo-Christian culture has long had 
a problem with dirt and darkness. White- 
ness has been Europe's symbol of purity, 
goodness, life, order, and the divine. 
(By contrast, consider classical Chinese 
culture, in which whiteness symbolizes 
death, and is worn at funerals.) Black- 
ness or darkness, on the other hand, has 
traditionally connoted impurity, evil, 
death, disorder, and the satanic. 

For centuries, the dominant Euro- 
pean ideal of human beauty stressed 
white skin. The most obvious reason for 
this is that reddened or tanned skin 
meant exposure to sun, wind, and rain. 
Since feudal society was agrarian, such 
exposure in a young person (or in a 
woman of any age) implied work — 
commonly in the fields. The arbiters of 
taste were aristocrats, for whom the 
absolute avoidance of work was crucial 
to class self-definition. The aristocratic 
ideal of beauty, still current today, was 
shaped by all the signs of distance from 
work — the build athletic rather than 
massive in a man, narrow-boned yet 
voluptuously fleshed in a woman, the 
hands small or at any rate narrow, with 
tapered fingers, and so forth. Distance 
from work in a mainly agricultural 
society also meant distance from dirt, 
from contact with the soil. To this day, 
"soi'ed" means dirty, just as dark means 
evil or threatening. (Signifiers of class 
and wealth still underlie our aesthetic 
and moral values. Consider the terms 
"noble" and "base" as applied to human 
conduct, the derivation of our word 
"villain" from vileyn, serf, and the con- 

vergence of vileyn with "vile" through the 
Latin i;27z5, cheap.) 

This cultural complex allowed Euro- 
peans to enslave and slaughter African's 
and Native Americans with a clearer 
conscience than would otherwise have 
been possible. Of course the expansion- 
ist and exclusive character of institu- 
tionalized Christianity was the ideologi- 
cal linchpin of the "Age of Discovery," as 
it had been of the Age of the Crusades. 
(In fairness, it is worth remembering 
that during the Crusades Christian 
culture was fighting a severe challenge 
by another expansionist and much more 
sophisticated culture, Islam.) Christi- 
anity divides human beings into wheat 
and chaff. Saved and Damned, allowing 
them no middle ground once the Word 
of the One True God has been preached 
to them. This absolute division of the 
world, with its own white/black symbol- 
ism, was superimposed on the aristo- 
cratic dualism of white noble, dark 

Underlying the Christian and aristo- 
cratic dichotomies was another more 
ancient one, the Graeco-Roman divi- 
sion of humanity into civilized versus 
"barbarian" or "savage" peoples. (The 
derivations of the latter put-downs are, 
respectively, people whose speech 
sounds to us like animal noises and 
people who live in the forest instead of 
cultivating fields.) For several centuries 
before the Age of Slavery, the European 
ruling classes had been convincing 

Capitalist accvunulation produces 

order at one pole and entropy 

at the other — or else organized 

shit (capital) at one pole and 

disorganized shit (misery and 

pollution) at the other. The 
symbolic shittiness of wealth is 

the dirty secret of white- 
capitalist-patriarchal culture. 

themselves that they were the civilized 
and that the Arabs and Persians, despite 
their splendid architecture, literature, 
science, and mathematics, were the 
barbarians. Encountering the tribal 
peoples of West Africa, Eastern North 
America, and Mexico, who neither used 
the wheel nor smelted iron, the Discov- 
erers could feel sure of their superiority 
and God-given right to exploit. Better 
yet, these peoples were possessed of 
more melanin in their skins than most 
Europeans, and so could be fitted into 
the cultural slot labelled black or dark 
— which meant at best chaotic, ignor- 
ant, dirty, and impure, and at worst 
menacing, vicious, and evil. 

The wealth looted from the land, 
artifacts, and bodies of Africa and 
America provided the fuel for the lift-off 
of commerce in Europe. The gold and 
silver mined by Indian slaves in Mexico 
and Peru, the cotton, sugar, and tobac- 
co harvested by African slaves in the 
Caribbean, created the wealth that was 
used to buy pale-skinned wage labor. It 
was in the seventeenth century, when 
the slave trade was soaring, that the 
notion of Europeans as white first 
appeared. The aristocratic signifier had 
been spread to include all Europeans, 
whether noble, base, or in between. 
Thus, alongside capitalism, twinned 
with it, was born modern racism. 

As Europeans and Euro-Americans 
lived with African slaves — and fought 
Native Americans for undisputed con- 
trol of the continent— the process of 
stereotyping and otherizing advanced 
rapidly'. By the middle of the nineteenth 
century Euro-Americans seem to have 
been almost incapable of seeing Afri- 
can-Americans, slave or free, as human 
beings. Even Mark Twain, conceiving a 
sympathetic figure in Jim, can only 
show the runaway slave as a pathetic 
victim. Jim's very speech is misrepre- 
sented, and by the writer who first set 
down varieties of Euro-American ver- 
nacular with such care. Yet describing 
the episode when Huck listens to the 
white raft-men talking. Twain gives the 
game away. Its the raft-men's game, a 


F'B^incEsaEci iLijai=Nh_a 3cd 

Miles Davis translates Nat Turner. 

ritual of trading hyperbolic and poetic 
boasts, and it comes straight out of West 
Africa. The repressed returns, an- 
nouncing that Twain's blindness and 
deafness are willful; they are necessitat- 
ed by guilty awareness of slavery's 
intimate and inextricable role in the 
founding of a "free" nation — and by the 
fact that, as Albert Murray observes in 
The Omni- Americans, "American cul- 

ture. . .is, regardless of all the hysterical 
protestations of those who would have it 
otherwise, incontestably mulatto." 

In his White Racism: A Psychohistory, 
Joel Kovel has shown how U.S. racism 
bifurcates between North and South. In 
the South, where whites grew up in 
intimate daily contact with black slaves 
and servants, the signifier of difference 
is supposed relative intelligence and 

development: Africans are childlike and 
must be ruled by whites for their own 
good. They are not feared or loathed as 
such, except when they get "uppity" and 
"don't know their place." Racial contact 
pollutes in only one way: through sex. 
Euro-patriarchy must not be chal- 
lenged, either by the legitimation of 
mixed-race offspring (though children 
from a long-term liaison with a female 

F'i=^aEIE55EE3 LJjai=^h_a 3CD 

slave may be treated with the kindness 
due pets) or above all by sex between a 
black man and a white woman. In the 
North, where despite the historically 
better legal status of black people the 
races have actually had less contact, a 
subliminal fear of dirt and pollution is 
characteristic of what Kovel calls aver- 
sive racism. Studies of Northern racist 
whites reveal bizarre fantasies of black 
skin color rubbing off on them when 
touched. The psychodynamic connec- 
tion between these two forms of racism 
can be intuitively grasped when we 
remember that "dirty" in Anglo- 
American culture is a synonym for 
openly erotic. 

Social Thermodynamics 

Nothing I have said so far is new. 
Less easily recognized is the relationship 
between how European or Euro- 
American culture understands "dirt" 
and the thermodynamical principle of 
entropy as applied to political economy 
and culture. 

Thermodynamics defines entropy as 
a measure of the disorder in a closed 
thermodynamical system. Since no sys- 
tem is 100% efficient, some energy 
must eventueilly become unavailable for 
work (meaning here the self- 
reproduction of the system's order). 
Energy that is not available for work 
causes disorder. To maintain order, 
therefore, a system must expel this 
disorder. For example, exhaust prod- 
ucts (carbon monoxide and dioxide and 
waste heat) are entropy expelled by a 
working auto engine to maintain its 
order as a system. The living human 
body sheds entropy as heat, as excreta 
(carbon dioxide, sweat and urine), as 
mucus carrying dead bacteria and other 
rejected matter, as dead skin cells, and 
of course as shit. 

Human societies are organized self- 
reproducing systems. In principle, then, 
this thermodynamical model can be 
extended to cover any society. What 
changes from one to another is the mode 
of order, and therefore what each one 
defines as work and energy. Capitalist 
industrial society, which engendered 
thermodynamical theory in the first 
place, defines "real" work as activity that 
gives rise to profit and is performed in 
exchange for money. Activity necessary 
for social reproduction that fails to meet 
one or both of these criteria is experi- 
enced as a drain on the system. This 
includes all the work of government, aW 
paid nonprofit work such as public 
education or health care, unpaid cultur- 

dl activity like writing poems or playing 
music for one's friends, and of course 
unpaid domestic work. 

"Activity that gives rise to profit" has 
evolved as capitalism has developed. To 
begin with, such activity was virtually 
synonymous with the production and 
distribution of material goods. Marx, 
however, was quick to see that produc- 
tion for capitalism means above all the 
production of capital, which in turn 
(and more profoundly) means the re- 
production of capitalist social relation- 
ships: paid work and the universal 
market. What is more, said Marx, 
because profits plateau and decline as 
industries mature, this reproduction 
depends on "growth." It cannot main- 
tain itself in a steady state. Growth for 
capitalism means more profit for capi- 
talists, more work done, more com- 
modities sold — but this depends on 
more people being wage earners and 
commodity consumers, more areas of 
the world and of sociad existence being 
brought into the cycle of work-pay-sell- 
buy-profit. Capitalism must, therefore, 
convert more and more kinds of human 
activity into work. 

While constantly redefining work, 
capitalism also constantly strives to 
reduce the amount of work-time taken 
to produce any given commodity — and 
to shorten the time capital needs to 
circulate from work done, via merchan- 
dise sold, to profit taken. Consequently 
capitalism is, as its publicists never cease 
to remind us, always creating techno- 
logical revolutions. This technologicail 
dynamism means that capitalism con- 
tinually redefines energy as well, which 
in a thermodynamic sense means not 
only power sources but raw materials. 

A global system that must perpetually 
expand and change in order to survive, 
that is continually creating new techno- 
logies, and that defines work at once so 
narrowly and so broadly, is likely to 
generate many forms of entropy. Most 
obviously, this means all sorts of indus- 
triad waste: "traditional" emissions like 
heat, carbon dioxide, and soot, an 
ever-widening rainbow of toxic chemi- 
cals, and various radiation hazards. 
Increasingly such pollutants are rivalled 
in destructiveness by consumption 
waste such as packaging and disposables 
of all sorts, carbon dioxide and nitrous/ 
nitric oxide from car exhausts, and toxic 
household cleaners. 

This entropic Niagara produces 
other lethal disorders, not least in the 
human body. Work-related illnesses 

from silicosis to carpal-tunnel syn- 
drome, the cancer clusters blooming 
around refineries and nuclear plants, 
join the traditional diseases of malnutri- 
tion and overcrowding triggered by 
three centuries of market forces shoving 
people off their land or out of their jobs. 
And as everyone knows, the disorder 
spewed out by the frantic global search 
for profits is ripping huge holes in the 
ecological fabric — holes in the ozone 
layer, holes in the rainforests, holes in 
the webs of animal and plant species, 
and holes in the census figures around 
places like Bhopal or Chernobyl. 

Beyond these, capitalist economifcs 
also generate behavioral and social 
forms of energy unavailable for "work" 
in the other sense of social reproduction. 
These include property crime from car 
burglary to securities fraud; violent 
crime caused by poverty and frustra- 
tion; and, in a feedback loop with these, 
drug and alcohol addiction. Shifts in 
land and labor prices also engender 
forced migration and homelessness — 
immense disruptions in demographic 
patterns and in people's daily lives. The 
other immense disruption, of course, is 
war, whether fought directly over mar- 
kets and resources, or over some ethnic 
rivalry with economic shock and stress 
as a contributing cause. 

Yet any thermodynamical system ac- 
tually has two options in regard to 
energy that becomes unavailable for 
work: dumping it, or recycling it. ^ Just 
now, capitalism is not doing very well at 
recycling much of its entropy, especially 
the chemical varieties. At recycling 
people, however, capitalism has always 
been unsurpassed. In the fifteenth, 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
rich English landowners turned many of 
their tenants loose because the shift from 
diverse farming to the more profitable 
monoculture of sheep required more 
range and fewer workers. They also 
expelled freeholding peasants from tra- 
ditionally common land they had en- 
closed for their own use. This dumped 
surplus population wandered the coun- 
tryside as beggars and thieves, causing a 
perpetual problem for the rural social 
order. Some drifted into the towns, 
where they were likewise experienced as 
entropic. But gradueilly, nascent manu- 
facturing began recycling them as 
■wage-workers. Once capitalism in both 
agriculture and industry got off the 
ground in the late eighteenth century, 
the flow of work-energy from the land to 
the cities became a flood, which contin- 


ues to this day. 

Capitalism is so effective at recycling 
work-energy because it treats work as a 
commodity and therefore as abstract. 
Kinds of work are interchangeable, 
valued solely according to their ability to 
produce profit. (Thermodynamics, as 
the Midnight Notes group has pointed 
out, originated during the same epoch 
as Frederick Taylor's "scientific man- 
agement," which aimed to break indus- 
trial work down into small, mindless 
units for greater efficiency.) In fact, 
Harry Braverman, David Noble, and 
others have shown how the whole his- 
tory of capitalist technology and man- 
agement techniques is the effort to make 
labor more interchangeable — and 
thereby to make workers more dispens- 
able and less powerful. However, capi- 
tal's recycling of work-energy runs afoul 
of the system's periodic crises. Theorists 

differ as to the inner cause of these 
crises. All of them, though, appear as a 
situation in which there is plenty of 
plant and equipment on one side and 
plenty of workers on the other, but in 
which the liquid capital cannot be found 
to bring the two together. The result is 
very high rates of both unemployment 
and corporate bankruptcy. 

If the crisis is short enough, the effects 
for the system can be quite beneficial; 
and today, governments are able 
through fiscal and monetary policy to 
manage crisis to capital's advantage, 
even to bring on recessions at will (as the 
Federal Reserve did in 1979-82). Per- 
haps the most important benefit of a 
controlled crisis is its disciplining of 
workers. High unemployment makes 
resistance to intensified exploitation dif- 
ficult, and wages can be reduced be- 
cause workers are desperate. Once the 

new cycle starts, moreover, there is a 
large pool of labor available for new 
ventures and for expansion. But if the 
crisis becomes too deep and prolonged, 
like the Great Depression of the '30s, the 
human energy made unavailable for 
work becomes violently entropic. The 
unemployed and the poor demonstrate 
and riot; and if they form alliances with 
the employed, as they did then, there is 
potential for mass strikes and even 
insurrection. Keeping the entropic en- 
ergy of the unemployed and the poor 
from contaminating the employed 
working class is a continuing project for 
the system. 

Dealing Dirt & Getting Shit 

Having outlined something of the 
range of socially generated entropy and 
the ways capitalism deals with it, I 
would like to stretch the notion a little 

Coleman Hawkins and Duke Ellington riff on surplus value. 

further to cover the re3dms of cuhure 
and the personality. Once again I must 
retrace some famiUar ground. Capitalist 
culture, as the likes of Max Weber and 
R.H. Tawney have demonstrated, rests 
on the Protestant revolution of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
which adapted the basic structures of 
Judeo-Christian patriarchy to fit new 
psychosocial needs. Protestantism, es- 
pecially Calvinism, exalts thrift, the 
accumulation of wealth, and hard work. 
That is, it favors the exchange of living 
time for congealed dead time in the form 
of commodities and money, which are 
then accumulated. As a corollary. Prot- 
estantism preaches sexual continence, 
the conservation of erotic energy. Patri- 
archal cultures have often been anxious 
about the release of sperm — the Hindu 
theory oi prana is one example. But in 
bourgeois-Protestant culture, sperm is 
viewed as a form of capital, which must, 
in the seventeenth-century phrase, be 
"spent" productively in begetting chil- 
dren. And if sperm is capital, the womb 
for patriarchy has always been land, the 
realest of real property. By making the 
womb-soil fruitful, the Protestant bour- 
geois not only continues his bloodline 
— the aim of all patriarchs — but invests 
in the future, founds or continues a 
family firm. 

All this requires strict discipline. 
Thus, mainline Protestant culture from 
Luther on inculcates hierarchical obedi- 
ence to one's elders and betters, begin- 
ning with the State — so long as the State 
permits one to worship the Protestant 
God and accumulate a Godly fortune. It 
also demands, as Freud saw, deferral of 
gratification to a degree rare in precapi- 
talist societies, and thus much emotional 
and sensual repression and rechannel- 
ing. The personality created in this 
image is controlled primarily through 
guilt, though shame is also an important 
spur. To inculcate and reinforce self- 
discipline, violence is often necessary. 
As in most patriarchies, death and 
mutilation are a State monopoly, but 
lesser violences such as beating are the 
prerogatives of every father-husband. 

For this configuration, which I will 
call "accumulationist," cultured entropy 
consists first of all of "wasteful" or 
"unproductive" behavior: free spending 
rather than saving, sexual promiscuity 
and sensuality, the open expression of 
passionate feeling, and of course lazi- 
ness. Female sexuality is viewed with 
fascinated dread, since it can lead to all 
the other forms of cultural disorder, 
beginning with illegitimate children. 

Sex between men is an abomination. 
Since the accumulation of property is 
the chief goal of life, lack of respect for 
property, such as trespass, is crime on a 
par with violence against one's betters, 
and theft must be savagely punished. 
The flouting of hierarchy (once feudail- 
ism and the Church of Rome have been 
defeated) is likewise a dire threat, as is 
the unlicensed use of violence. 

One common way for cultures — and 
individuals — to deal with anxiety about 
forbidden traits or behaviors is to pro- 
ject them outwards as defining attri- 
butes of some demonized Other. As 
capitalism developed through the eight- 
eenth and early nineteenth centuries, 
the European and Euro-American 

bourgeoisies came to project entropic 
characteristics onto the poor of their 
own cities as well as onto the peoples of 
Africa and India they were colonizing. 
"Half devil and half child," Kipling 
would call these peoples in "The White 
Man's Burden"; but nineteenth-century 
manufacturers said much the same of 
their workers (many of whom up to the 
1860s were actual children). Poor people 
were viewed by the propertied classes as 
lazy, promiscuous, larcenous, drunken, 
and spendthrift. 

There was truth, of a kind, to the 
stereotype. Long hours of repetitive toil 
produce boredom, exhaustion, and 
consequent sluggishness. People who 
live from week to week cannot save their 

money even if they had the incentive. 
Poverty and forced migration in search 
of work disrupt familial and communal 
ties and drive people to theft and 
prostitution. Drunkenness and senseless 
violence are consequences of depriva- 
tion and despair. Unlicensed forms of 
sexual behavior offer some of the few 
pleasures that can be had without mon- 

This unruly proletariat, mostly only 
one generation removed from the coun- 
tryside, was only converted into a stable 
and respectable working class through a 
long acculturation. It also involved 
enormous State violence. In the end, 
relative stability was only achieved by 
introducing machinery that made it 
possible to squeeze more production out 
of workers without lengthening the 
working day. 

Once the "respectable" working class 
was established in the U.S. during the 
last third of the nineteenth century, the 
same entropic characteristics were pro- 
jected onto other Others: onto the 
lumpenproletariat or criminal classes; 
onto the Irish; onto immigrants from 
Southern and Eastern Europe;' onto 
Indians and Mexicans; and above all 
and continuously, onto black people. 
And, as in the case of the earlier 
projection onto the poor, the projective 
fantasy was partly self-fulfilling, a mat- 
erialized ill-wish or exorcism. 

There is one cruciad component to 
this exorcism that I have not mentioned: 
dirt. As we have seen, feudalism defined 
dirt (at least on face, hands, or clothes) 
as a signifier of low social status. The 
rising capitalist class, by its nature, had 
to be a lot closer to work than had the 
aristocracy — and it had to reverse the 
polarity of the aristocracy's disdain for 
money-grubbing. It developed an even 
more passionate aversion to dirt, 
summed up in the famous Victorian 
maxim "Cleanliness is next to Godli- 
ness." But feudal dirt differs from capi- 
talist dirt. Feudal dirt is the sign of 
closeness to work and the earth. Capi- 
talist dirt, being mostly industrial ef- 
fluent or the grime of destitution, is 
likewise associated with work — but also 
with poverty, waste, and the absence of 
Protestant bourgeois values. It is, one 
might say, visible entropy. Like the 
poor themselves, dirt is a product of 
capitalist accumulation that the capital- 
ist class does not want to see or smell. 

The dirtiest dirt, of course, is shit. 
Shit's meaning in capitalist culture, 
however, is profoundly ambiguous. In 
The Ontogenesis of Money, the psychologist 


E='i=>h[nc:E5SECI lOJIUF^h-EJ 3C3 

Sandor Ferenczi suggests that the anal 
retentive stage of infancy lays the foun- 
dation for the accumulationist, ex- 
change-oriented bourgeois personality. 
When the child being toilet-trained 
deliberately holds her shit back, she 
gains attention and rewards for releas- 
ing it at the set time. Thus she learns to 
retain, to delay gratification, and to 
exchange one pleasure for another. She 
also becomes more self-contained, more 
aware of her own desires as distinct from 
those of others. To the bourgeois un- 
conscious, then, shit is wealth — but only 
when you can't see it. 

Bourgeois wealth grows out of shit, 
and produces shit. Capitalism, Marx 
says, creates wealth at one pole of 
accumulation and poverty at the other. 
One could paraphrase this by saying 
that capitalist accumulation produces 
order at one pole and entropy at the 
other — or else organized shit (capital) at 
one pole and disorganized shit (misery 
and pollution) at the other. The sym- 
bolic shittiness of wealth is the dirty 
secret of white-capitalist-patriarchal 
culture. Milan Kundera, in The Unbear- 
able Lightness of Being, says that kitsch is 
the denial of shit. In the Stalinist 
Czechoslovakia of which Kundera was 
writing, "shit" meant secret police, po- 
litical prisoners, few choices, shortages, 
stupid jobs, pollution; "kitsch" meant 
red flags flying, patriotic songs and 
icons of Lenin, hymns to industry and 
progress. In market-capitalist societies 
"shit" means violence, apolitical prison- 
ers, meaningless choices, poverty, stu- 
pid jobs, pollution; "kitsch" means 
shopping malls, sitcoms, blockbuster 
comic-book movies, advertising, telec- 
toral pseudopolitics. In either case, 
kitsch — formulaic, sentimental, one- 
dimensional, cosily reassuring even at 
its sexiest or most brutal — serves to 
conceal shit, which is why it is one- 

Besides the usual late-capitalist shit, 
white kitsch in the United States is also, 
as noted earlier, a denial of original 
crime — genocide and slavery — and of 
the fact that, as Harold Cruse put it in 
"The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual," 
"the white Protestant Anglo-Saxon in 
America has nothing in his native 
American tradition that is aesthetically 
and culturally originad, except that 
which derives from the Negro presence." 
White (not European) American accu- 
mulationist culture is defined by its utter 
blandness and avoidance of controversy 
or risk, by its cleanliness-as-absence. 

This blandest-common-denominator 

culture is, notoriously, the behavioral 
and stylistic norm of the suburb, to 
which even the older, run-down exur- 
ban developments aspire. It is, besides, 
the ambience of the modern corporate 
office, where niceness rules — or rather, 
is the means of rule. In the white-collar 
workplace everyone must act white: 
quiet, polite, cheerful, emotionally 
masked, sensually numb, perpetually 
busy, willing to tolerate any humiliation 
as long as its done with a smile. 
Controversial topics are rigidly avoided, 
and the ultimate taboo is discussing 
salaries. The excremental significance of 
money is apparent from the fact that 
good corporate citizens would rather tell 
you how much they get laid than how 
much they get paid. 

The truth of wealth, however, is 
made historically manifest in the prolet- 
ariat, the class of shitworkers. These are 
the people who are supposedly only fit 
for what the sociology texts call super- 
vised routine tasks, which means 
numbingly dull, frequently health- 
damaging drudgery — not only in the 
factory but at the keyboard and behind 
the counter. Their energy is made 
available for work only by fierce eco- 
nomic compulsion backed up by a 
never-ending bombardment of ideolo- 
gy, beginning in schools whose function 
is to convince them they are incapable of 
anything else. You ain't shit, the Amer- 
ican insult goes, meaning you are the 
lowest of the low. Eat shit and like it. 
Shit is processed or disposed of by 
inferiors who are contaminated by it, 
who metaphorically eat it, and who 
metonymically (by association) become 

No surprise, then, that black people 
have always been at or near the bottom 
of the proletarian heap in the US. 
Occupying at best the next level up — or 
in many places the same level — are 
Indians, Mexicans, Central Americans, 
and Puerto Ricans, also in the racist 
mind shit-colored. Just above them are 
the poor white trash, another entropy- 
word. All are to this day routinely 
represented as dishonest, loud- 
mouthed, lazy, lustful, stupid, booze- 
and-drugsodden brutes. The psychic 
consequences of this projection onto 
working-class people, and especially 
onto women and African-Americans, 
are devastating. Yet these despised 
creatures have been a prime source of 
capitalist wealth. 

This wealth is not only economic but 
cultural. To give only the most familiar 
example: black people, working from 

the African traditions they were able to 
retain, created the country's most im- 
portant—some might say only — 
indigenous musical forms. 

Recycling In Mass Culture: The 
Case of Black Music 

There is no need to rehash the vast 
and continuing expropriation of Afri- 
can-American music to the profit of 
(mostly) white-owned capited and for the 
entertainment of white audiences. Any- 
one with the slightest knowledge of U.S. 
music history can cite examples, from 
the bleaching of Ellington's and Basie's 
orchestral jazz into bland Glenn Miller- 
style big-band pop in the '30s and '40s 
to the endless recycling by white guitar- 
ists of blues riffs lifted from Robert 
Johnson or B.B. King. White baby- 
boomers howl with outrage when the 
rock anthems of their adolescence are 
converted into commercials; but this is 
much the same experience that black 
musicians and audiences have been 
having for nearly a century. (Michael 
Jackson represents the paroxysm of this 
process: an African- American who tries 
to eradicate from his face and body the 
traces of race while producing a color- 
blind dance music ingeniously con- 
structed out of all the hot pop trends of 
the moment — and then recycling it 
almost immediately into ad jingles.) 

Viewed from a cultural-thermo- 
dynamic perspective, this expropriation 
appears if anything even more horri- 
fic. We see a dominant culture and 
political economy that imported Afri- 
cans as slaves, worked them to death, 
bred them like animals, tortured them 
in every conceivable way for two cen- 
turies. Then for another century and a 
half this culture and politicad economy 
systematically exploited the descendants 
of the slaves as the lowest shitworkers, 
denying them economic opportunity 
and political rights wherever possible, 
meanwhile projecting onto them its own 
repressed fears and furies, loathings and 
longings. At the same time, this social 
order extracted from African-Americans 
the brilliant music and language they 
created as a way of surviving their 
misery. It is as if the Nazis had, while 
gassing the Jews and extracting their 
gold teeth, sold off the artwork they had 
created in the camps, and marketed 
recordings of the string quartets they 
had formed there to entertain the 

But how did African-American cul- 
ture become — at least in watered-down 
forms — not merely acceptable to U.S. 

F>G=sac:Ea5Ea LuaFSk-Ci 3C3 

commercial mass culture but central to 
it, its semi-occult driving force? As I 
have tried to show, the accumulationist 
personality structure is profoundly hos- 
tile to "Blackness" as white people read 
into/project onto ?/ — shamelessly sensual 
and hedonistic, incipiently violent and 
uncontrollable. It is also hostile to the 
culture black people have themselves 
experienced and created. This culture is 
a far more complex amalgam of traits, 
one that varies widely by class, caste, 
and region and that includes distinct 
patterns of emotional revelation and 
concealment, anger and tenderness, 
community and individuality, reason 
and intuition. One major factor under- 
lying its common differences from 
Euro-American cultures may be the 
preservation of African cultural traits, 
in particular the communal and ecstatic 
character of West African religion. But 
black culture is not simply — or even at 
this point primarily — transplanted Afri- 
can-ness. As Stanley Crouch has con- 
troversially pointed out, it is, like U.S. 
culture in its entirety, a mulatto phenom- 

Black culture has been created under 
the pressure of African-American peo- 
ple's situation within the U.S.— within 
whiteness. Under this pressure, exerted 
at first through slavery and later 
through institutions such as schooling, 
African-Americans have continually 
transformed what they have been able to 
preserve of their own heritage: for 
example, shifting African linguistic 
forms into English to create black ver- 
nacular. At the same time they have 
absorbed influences and materials not 
only from Euro-America but from Na- 
tive people and from Mexico and the 
Caribbean, producing one of the richest 
and most complex cultures in the world. 
The pressure has also taken commercial 
form, the more so as institutional racism 
has become subtler in its strategies. 
Countless black musicians, dancers, ac- 
tors, and even writers have had to flavor 
their work to white tastes in order to 
survive, often concealing subversive 
content through a "signifying" process. 

A complex and revealing example is 
the various uses made of the myth of 
"Staggerlee," the footloose, fearless, de- 
fiantly individualistic black man who 
hustles his way through life, loving 
women, siring children, and dealing 
ruthlessly with his enemies — including, 
in later variants, the white sheriff. This 
figure, of course, is the ultimate racist 
nightmare and justification, the specter 
looming over a thousand lynchings and 

behind the phobic prose of contempora- 
ry conservative and neoliberal pundits. 
Yet the image is also vitally important to 
African-American tradition — and has 
been attractive to a minority of whites. 
Numerous versions of the Staggerlee 
tale appeared in blues of the '20s. 
Muddy Water's classic urban blues 
"Rolling Stone" represented a less vi- 
olent version of this character, inspiring 
not only the name of one of the most 
famous bands in rock history and that of 
the pioneer counterculture-corporate 
fusion magazine, but also numerous 
lesser rock songs of the '50s and '60s, of 
which "The Wanderer" is as good an 
example as any. Greil Marcus points 
out in Mystery Train that Staggerlee- 
Rolling Stone appeals positively to 
whites as well as blacks because he is a 
crudely antithetical but powerful image 
of freedom both for adolescent boys and 
for shitworking, shit-eating men of any 
color. The popularity of ultraviolent, 
misogynistic "gangsta" rap among white 
suburban teenage boys probably stems 
from analogous causes, including the 
excruciating boredom of their milieu 
and the dismal future most face as 
Breaking Loose vs. Hanging Tight 

Such sensational use of negatively 
signed images of black life merely tips 
an iceberg. Blackness, in the dual sense 
in which I have employed the term, has 
been appropriated more broadly by the 
culture industry. In my view this is 
owing to a profound and deepening 
contradiction in capitalist culture and 
economy since the '20s. In order to 
expand after World War I, U.S. busi- 
ness needed new mass markets for 
consumer goods. To create these mar- 
kets within the U.S. it had to stimulate 
in huge masses of people what John 
Maynard Keynes, the great economic 
strategist of mid-century capitalism, 
called the "propensity to consume." The 
most immediate aim was to sell the 
consumer durables that could now be 
turned out cheaply en masse using the 
assembly-line methods developed by 
Henry Ford. This strategy, known to 
many analysts as Fordism, aimed at a 
car in every garage and a refrigerator in 
every kitchen, bought with the wages 
earned producing the cars and refriger- 

At first, Fordist consumerism could 
be consistent with the accumulationist 
social personality (as it still is to some 
extent). Every worker could assume the 
trappings of Property, hallmark of vir- 

tue. As Stewart and Mary Ewen have 
shown, advertising between the wars 
(and well into the '50s for some prod- 
ucts) played on the insecurities in this 
social personality: anxiety about dirt 
and pollution, work ethic, desire to 
emulate the next income level up, need 
to conform. Ford cars (always black) 
were initially sold as a more efficient 
form of transportation, refrigerators 
(always white) as promoters of hygiene 
and order. 

But already another set of buttons was 
being pushed. In The Road to Wigan Pier, 
published in 1937, George Orwell noted 
how English working-class youth were 
opting for colorful, stylish, if shoddily 
made clothing rather than the somber 
but durable uniforms worn by their 
elders. Though they wore out quickly, 
such glad rags were cheap enough that 
new and fashionable ones could be 
bought easily. Like their U.S. counter- 
parts, these young people liked to 
dance, mostly to jazz and big-band 
swing, and their dancing was becoming 
increasingly wild. They went to the 
movies and did their best to imitate the 
images of glamor and romance they saw 

The new consumption and leisure 
habits growing among late Depression- 
era young people foreshadowed the 
direction merchandising was to take 
after World War II. The sober accumu- 
lationist consumerism of the previous 
generation was no longer enough to 
absorb the vast output of increasingly 
automated mass production, which had 
learned unprecedented efficiency while 
making weapons. To achieve the neces- 
sary speed of turnover, consumer goods 
generally had to become matters of 
fashion, as they had always been for the 
aristocracy and the upper reaches of the 
bourgeoisie. By the late '50s, this meant 
the application of planned obsolescence, 
previously confined to items like nylons, 
light bulbs, and razor blades, to durable 
goods like automobiles and vacuum 
cleaners. At the level of advertising, it 
meant that desire of all sorts had to be 
stimulated. Accumulationist repression 
was loosened, and the exploitation of 
hedonist impulses, begun cautiously in 
certain market sectors before the war, 

This hedonist ascendance can be 
viewed as a partial reappropriation of 
shadow characteristics banished from 
the white accumulationist social person- 
ality—more open sexuality and sensual- 
ity, orientation toward immediate 
rather than deferred gratification. 


"flaunting" rather than reticence in per- 
sonal style, propensity to spend and 
consume rather than save and acquire. 
But such tendencies were in sharp 
contradiction to the accumulationist 
values that still dominated political, 
religious, and civic discourse as well as 
much advertising. 

The collision between accumulation- 
ist and hedonist messages helps to 
explain the sheer weirdness of later '50s 
mass culture: the heavy, finned cars like 
space fortresses in pastel colors; the 
demurely sexy TV moms mopping the 
kitchen floor in tight sweaters and high 
heels; and of course Elvis on the Ed 
Sullivan Show with his gyrating hips 
blacked out. Another indicator of the 
change was the literally Biblical circula- 
tion enjoyed by Dr. Spock's Baby and 
Child Care, which advocated accommo- 
dation to the child's own physiological 
and developmental rhythms in toilet 
training rather than the rigid timeta- 
bling practiced by previous generations. 

A large minority of the generation of 
whites that grew up in consumerist 
(relative) abundance partly absorbed the 
hedonist messages but by and large 
rejected the accumulationist ones. That 
is, they synthesized from pleasure- 
oriented advertising and the "imaginary" 
of rock'n'roll a notion of freedom that 
implied the absence of hierarchical ac- 
countability (say, to a parent or a boss) 
or customary commitment (say, to a 
spouse). Perhaps even more important, 
they absorbed images of satisfaction that 
focused on abandonment to experience 
rather than acquisition of goods, on the 
present rather than the future. To 
paraphrase the old ad-man's saying, 
they wanted the sizzle without buying 
the steak. In the context of the times, 
this hedonist gestalt fused temporarily 
with social idealism and a will to 
experimentation in daily life to help 
create what Theodore Roszak called the 

Alongside the ascending curve of 
hedonism rose another, in complex 
relation to it. Ever since the Jazz Age, 
the appropriation of African-American 
music and style into U.S. mass culture 
had been on the increase. This appro- 
priation, to be sure, was mediated by 
the culture industry, which bleached it 
for Euro-American tastes. However, 
significant minorities of whites always 
managed to gain access to the real thing. 
In this way they served unwittingly as 
feeders of new trends to the industry, 
rather as Bohemian types open up 
marginal neighborhoods to gentrifica- 



tion. They also consistently projected 
their own hedonist values onto black 
culture, in a partial inversion of the 
psychic shit-dumping practiced by the 
majority. The '20s Bohemians who 
flocked to Harlem saw jazz as exotic, 
wild, primitive, an image of the escape 
they sought from white bourgeois 
mores. In the '50s, the Beats who 
congregated around bebop musicians 
admired the spontaneity in their impro- 
visations, but often failed to recognize 
the mastery of an entire musical lan- 
guage developed over generations that 
made the spontaneity possible. 

At about the same time, working- 
class Southern whites like Elvis were 
blending with white country music the 
jump blues they heard in black juke 
joints — while still talking about "nig- 
gers." As Greil Marcus puts it, "Even if 
Elvis' South was filled with Puritans, it 
was also filled with hedonists, and the 
same people were both." Rock'n'roll was 
born. Black-derived music (and music 
by actual black performers) was provid- 
ing the soundtrack for hedonist market- 
ing strategies; and the soundtrack itself 
was becoming a hugely lucrative com- 
modity in its own right. 

The new energy of post-World War II 
black popular music, though, was in 
part political, or at any rate prepolitical. 
Even as rhythm and blues evolved in 
complex feedback loops between Mem- 
phis, New Orleans, and Chicago, the 
ground was being laid for the Mont- 
gomery, Alabama bus boycott of 1955 
and the decade-long explosion that fol- 
lowed. This explosion, the Civil Rights 
movement, was the other force that 

created the counter-culture. To some 
extent the transmission was direct, via 
the white student veterans of the South- 
ern voter registration campaigns. For 
many more young middle-class whites, 
it came via the televised images of 
thousands of black people standing up to 
clubs, dogs, firehoses, bullets, and fire- 
bombs and refusing to back down. 
These images, contradicting everything 
they had been taught, not only filled 
them with anger and a desire for social 
justice, but offered them, however va- 
guely, a model of revolt, oi another way to 
be. Even where this revolt took off in 
quietist (Orientadizing-meditative) or 
self-destructive (drug-abusing) direc- 
tions, it was given much of its initial 
kick by African-American rebellion — 
anticipated and transmitted in the mu- 
latto music of rock'n'roll. ' 

From the early rock'n'roll period 
through about 1970, the two curves, 
hedonism and black influence, moved 
intermittently close together, exchang- 
ing energy via figures such as Chuck 
Berry, Elvis, and later Jimi Hendrix 
and Sly Stone. Yet despite its partial 
rejection of white accumulationist val- 
ues and behavior — and much superficial 
admiration for "spades" — the counter- 
culture remained overwhelmingly 
Euro-American. Its music, while still 
blues-based, was leagues away in feeling 
from the black pop of the period, 
typified by Motown, which smoothed 
out Gospel into sweet, danceable cross- 
over tunes. Sly and the Family Stone 
were virtually alone in synthesizing the 
two strains of cultural energy, in a string 
of hits that carried the band to Wood- 

F'F^aiZESSECI LJjaFNk-E3 3(3 


stock in 1969. 

Then, in 1971-3, fueled by the last 
surge of Black Power and the politiciz- 
ing of the white counter-culture via the 
anti-war movement, black musicians 
briefly took over the pop airwaves with 
exciting, chzdleriging, politically potent 
songs: Edwin Starr's "War," Marvin 
Gaye's "Inner City Blues," War's "The 
World Is A Ghetto," to name a few. 
Among these songs was the Tempta- 
tion's grim, eerie "Papa Was A Rollin' 
Stone," which brilliantly critiqued the 
Staggerlee myth even as it acknowl- 
edged the myth's basis in reality. In the 
songj a black mother gathers her chil- 

sabotage, absenteeism, and wildcat 
strikes spread through the U.S. econo- 
my. These waves were initiated espe- 
cially by black workers, who had formed 
their own semilegal shop-floor organi- 
zations to resist the racism of both their 
supervisors and their unions and the 
superexploitation to which they were 
often consigned. They were increasingly 
joined in their rebellion by newly urba- 
nized "white trash" workers, as well as 
by urban working-class freaks who had 
drifted back into the factories. Hedonist 
mass culture and its counterculturcil 
offshoots had combined with African- 
American revolt and the weakening of 

The history of black people in the U.S. also teaches 
Euro- Americans that their whiteness is not an "ethnicity" 
but a dominance category and a denial mechanism; in 
other words, that it is empty of everything but power 
and forgetting. 

dren at the grave of their absent father, 
and they want to know more about him. 
"When he died, all he left us was sdone," 
she replies. At a cultured node where 
white notions of "Blackness" and white 
men's escape fantasies fed on actual 
black experience and black men's fanta- 
sies about themselves, the Temptations 
were cutting one pipeline while pouring 
truth down another. Hitherto, the cul- 
ture industry's selective appropriation of 
black culture had mostly been limited to 
those features that could be fitted, 
however incompletely, into the hedonist 
gestalt. The cultural-political surge of 
the early '70s both allowed black artists 
to speak and perform more freely and 
opened a channel wide enough that their 
newly undiluted music directly touched 
more whites than ever before. 

This breaching of the cultural fire- 
walls was preceded and accompanied by 
a massive breakdown of work discipline. 
The postwar boom was the first (and 
only) period in which capital had tried to 
manage labor under conditions of gen- 
erzdized abundance, in which the spur of 
destitution was softened by near-full 
employment and by social welfare pro- 
grams. The experiment failed. From 
about 1967 on, the colorful revolt of the 
counter-culture. Black Power, and the 
mass movement against the Vietnam 
War both concealed and helped propa- 
gate a revolt on the job. Beginning 
mainly in the auto industry, waves of 

economic compulsion to make more and 
more social and cultural energy literally 
unavailable for work. Fordism was shat- 

The early-to-mid-'70s, in fact, 
marked a point of real danger for 
capitalism in the developed countries. 
But crises are the ether thing capitalism 
has always been good at recycling. The 
threatening entropic energy of the oil 
shock and the Third World debt crisis in 
1974-6 was turned, with the aid of 
computers and telecommunications, 
into a global reorganization of the 
system. The oil-price recession of 1974 
began the process of restoring work 
discipline, especially through the hys- 
terical atmosphere of scarcity created by 
the mass media and by such measures as 
gasoline rationing. Meanwhile, U.S.- 
based multinationals intensified their 
export of capitzd — and of what had been 
high-wage manufacturing jobs — to the 
Asian Pacific Rim and Latin America. 
Still, inflation, bane of the accumula- 
tionist mindset, continued to eat away at 
U.S. capital assets until the Federal 
Reserve raised interest rates in 1979, 
causing unemployment to soar as sever- 
al jolts of recession shot through the 

The result was that millions of work- 
ers, especially black ones, were tossed 
out of the factories while the remainder 
were bullied into line, their already 
sclerotic and corrupt unions broken. 

Hedged in by new legislation and hostile 
courts and bureaucracies, strikes were 
made virtually illegal. The centers of 
industriad power that Fordism had 
created were scattered one after anoth- 
er, as the Smokestack Belt became the 
Rust Belt. Second- wave feminism, 
which had started out with radical 
criticisms of the ruling order, had 
already been sidetracked into opportu- 
nity ideology for professional-class 
women on the one hand, and "cultural 
feminist" separatism on the other. Now 
the brief surge of woman-oriented of- 
fice-worker organizing that began in the 
late '70s was hcdted. A ferocious assault 
on "entitlements" and social programs 
was launched. Real wages fell, even as 
housing prices soared. The shift of 
capital from industrial investment to 
frenzied speculation began. Capital's 
bipolar shit-machine went into high 
gear, spewing money and obedience out 
of one end and every sort of entropic 
foulness and horror out of the other. 

Cultural control was also being re- 
established. A version of the accumula- 
tionist social personality was set up as 
the norm by closing the loop between 
accumulation and pleasure, by making 
the process of accumulation the supreme 
pleasure. Like the miswired psychopath 
in The Terminal Man, who gets an 
orgasmic rush from the implant in his 
brain whenever he murders, the looter- 
heroes of '80s casino capitalism shud- 
dered with ecstasy as they made killings 
on the market. Most white proletarians, 
their solidary links with fellow-workers 
weakened, terrorized by the prospect of 
homelessness, fell easy prey to vertical 
identification with the rich and with the 
nation-state. The Reagans presided 
over this Scheissjest as the wish-dream of 
the ageing white suburban middle class 
— old but looking good, rich but re- 
laxed, stylish but virtuous. 

The Global Dump 

The new phase of capital accumula- 
tion that began around 1979 is charac- 
terized, as theorists like David Harvey 
have noted, by its great flexibility and 
unprecedented global reach. These are 
made possible by the new power and 
cheapness of computers and by the 
speed of worldwide telecommunica- 
tions, as well as by the breaking of 
working-class power in the developed 
countries. Capital, in the form of mon- 
ey, materials, and product specifica- 
tions, can be switched around the planet 
so fast that no existing worker strategies 
or organizations can keep pace. As 

F>FM=IEZE5SiEEl LJjaE^h_a 3C3 

Harvey puts it in The Condition of 
Postmodernity, "The same shirt designs 
can be produced by large-scale factories 
in India, cooperative production in the 
'Third Italy,' sweatshops in New York 
and London, or family labor systems in 
Hong Kong." 

Capital's new freedom of action gen- 
erates unprecedented amounts of social 
and ecological entropy. Developing 
countries have not been able to afford 
much in the way of environmental or 
worker protection, because their indus- 
tries have lacked the economies of scale 
and technologically based productivity 
that would allow them to compete 
successfully with transnational corpora- 
tions even in their own markets. Now, 
desperate for investment, they are per- 
mitting the transnationzils to draw on 
their pools of underemployed cheap 
labor while benefiting from the lower 
operating costs imposed by their largely 
unregulated economies. The result is 
the pollution and hopeless overcrowding 
of places like Mexico City or Sao Paolo 
on one side, and the deforestation of 
Southeast Asia or the Amazon Basin on 
the other. 

Both the sale of toxic or hazardous 
commodities and the disposal of wastes 
are often referred to as dumping — m the 
U.S., also a slang term for shitting. 
Dumping is a central process of post- 
Fordist capital.' The developed coun- 
tries' relationship to the periphery (in- 
cluding their own "underdeveloping" 
regions and populations) is not merely 
exploitative and extractive, but excretive. 
Peripheral countries are used for partic- 
ularly hazardous kinds of production, 
like the pesticides Union Carbide was 
making at Bhopal. Also, they are sold 
"discount" merchamdise no longer salea- 
ble in the countries of its manufacture 
because of toxicity or other hazards; and 

they are bribed to become disposal sites 
for toxic waste. More subtly but just as 
devastatingly, they have been victims of 
the economic entropy dumped on them 
by a global system convulsing itself in 
the effort to boost profit rates and locate 
capital for investment — as artificizilly 
depressed prices for raw materials, as 
mountains of debt, and finally as IMF- 
imposed "austerity" plans. This trans- 
lates to the dumping of millions of 
former peasants into the shanty-towns 
that ring Third World cities. 

Each of these excretive processes has 
its analogy in poor African-American 
and Latino neighborhoods. Not only are 
toxic-waste sites and polluting factories 
concentrated in or near them, but the 
misery and poor education of many of 
their residents is being exploited by drug 
merchants legal and illegad, who are 
dumping their merchandise — 

principally tobacco, alcohol, and co- 
caine—there as middle-class suburban 
markets soften. Meanwhile, with the 
exception of the "Great Society" period 
under Lyndon Johnson, these neigh- 
borhoods have been systematically 
starved of resources — as Federal hous- 
ing-loan policies virtually bribed whites 
to abandon the inner cities while delib- 
erately preventing blacks from doing so, 
as industry followed the whites into the 
suburbs over the next twenty years, as 
financial institutions redlined the neigh- 
borhoods into slums, and as social 
programs and public education have 
been sliced to ribbons over the last 
decade. Finally, it is much of the black 
and Latino working class itself that has 
been dumped, flushed down the toilet, 
as its unreliable work-energy has been 
expelled from the wage system. Now 
these workers are recycled as low-octane 
fuel in the sweatshops that bring one 
final excremental insult to the inner 

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cities — shit jobs. 

All this, following on other adapta- 
tions forced by the history of slavery and 
then by the constant brutal pressures of 
poverty and discrimination that fol- 
lowed, has allowed white projections a 
limited basis in reality — the materieJ- 
ized ill- wish I spoke of earlier. To grasp 
this idea, suppose a woman's face has 
after repeated beatings healed with a 
bent nose, accretions of scar tissue, and 
broken veins. Suppose also that unde- 
rstandably, her habitual expression is 
one of bitterness and anger. Then 
suppose that the woman is forced by her 
abuser to wear a translucent mask that 
grotesquely exaggerates every result of 
her injuries to create a laughable and 
frightening caricature, obliterating the 
beauty and strength that persist under 
the scars. 

One example of this caricatured 





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semi-reality is black extended family 
networks, in which children have been 
somewhat more likely than their white 
counterparts to be raised by a relative 
other than their biological parents, and 
in which fathers have (supposedly) been 
more often absent. This difference is 
routinely inflated by racist demagogues, 
starting with the liberal Daniel Patrick 
Moynihan, into the irresponsible, licen- 
tious "pathology" of the black family, 
responsible for most ills of the "under- 
class." Yet as similar sorts of prolonged 
economic dislocation, insecurity, and 
hopelessness hit white working-class 
people, their family structures and child- 
rearing practices have begun to alter in 
the same ways. (There are certainly 
more white deadbeat dads than black 
ones.) What's more, the "pathologist" 
commentators make little mention of the 
evident familial loyalty and devotion of 
black alternative childrearers like aunts 
and grandmothers. ' 

Another example is the higher per 
capita rates of crime by black people, 
asserted by these same apologists to be 
part of the "underclass pathology"; a 
more reasonable explanation is the de- 
crepit public education in the inner 
cities and the catastrophic levels of 
unemployment faced by young black 
men. (At the height of the Civil Rights 
movement in the early to mid-1960s, in 
a surge of hope and social solidarity, 
crime fell by as much as half in many 
black communities.) 

Both the fatherless or matriarchal 
black family and black criminality have 
been the raw material for countless 
movies and TV shows during the last 
twenty-five years, in what Ishmael Reed 
aptly calls "black pathology entertain- 
ment." This is how poverty-entropy and 
crime-entropy are recycled by capital as 
social and ideological terrorism. The 

revived "Staggerlee" image of the ruth- 
less, sociopathic black criminal, most 
recently personified in Willie Horton, 
has proved a reliable way to drill white 
working people into alliance with their 
exploiters and to suppress the possibility 
of a cross-racial class alliance. Audi- 
ence-participation "verite" cop shows like 
America's Most Wanted, whose viewers 
work as snitches to turn in alleged 
criminals, promote vertical identifica- 
tion with the State and the police. The 
LAPD trial, depending as it did on a 
negrophobic and authoritarian reading 
of the Rodney King tape, can be seen as 
an extension of these shows into the 
courtroom. In the stop-motion ritualis- 
tic dance video the prosecution made of 
the tape, violence was slowed down until 
the viciousness of the cops faded and 
was replaced by the threat conjured 
from King's every movement. 

Conclusion: Fucking Shit Up 

Where a margin of profit or political 
gain is foreseeable, capitalism tries to 
reabsorb or recycle energy that has 
become unavailable for work. The waste 
recycling and pollution cleanup indus- 
tries are the most obvious examples, but 
the ways deviant subcultures are "recy- 
cled" into commercial fashion are prob- 
ably more economically important. 
When recycling does not seem desira- 
ble, capitalism does its best to make the 
energy unusable for any alternate sys- 
tem or order — that is, an order outside 
the circuits of corporate power and 
money value. This tendency is visible in 
a thousand petty and gross acts of waste, 
from tearing the covers off unsold books 
to destroying "surplus" agricultural 
commodities that could feed tens of 
thousands of hungry people. 

The single most dangerous form of 
entropy for capitalism is large-scale 

organized revolt, typically provoked by 
(and provoking) economic and political 
crisis. But even this energy can be 
harnessed, if its own interned organiza- 
tion and scale does not carry it beyond 
the terms of capitalist social relation- 
ships. The long and bitter struggle of 
nineteenth-century wage-slaves to 
shorten the working day proved a huge 
spur to mechanization, which in turn 
made possible the opening up of vast 
new markets and, arguably, the survival 
of the system for another century. 
Likewise, the containment of the indus- 
trial revolts of the '30s within the CIO 
unionization drive facilitated the shop- 
floor discipline needed to produce for 
World War II and the Fordist deal that 
came after, in which intensified work 
and longer hours were traded for wage 

The case of the black rebellion of the 
60s and 70s is more complex. To some 
extent, the U.S. capitalist class has been 
able to channel the rebellion's energy 
into a spectacle of "equal opportunity" 
and tolerance built on the civil rights 
legislation passed between 1959 and 
1975, with additional use being made of 
a suitably edited icon of Dr. Martin 
Luther King Jr. But this spectacle 
masks a vicious if politically useful 
division of the African- American popu- 
lation into "middle-class" workers on the 
one hand and "ghetto" poor on the other, 
most of whom are still working for 
wages, but much lower ones. Also, of 
course, money is being made off the 
resurgence of Black Nationadist ideology 
among rap groups like Public Enemy. 
But by and large it is the second 
tendency that has been followed: to 
make surplus African-American prolet- 
arians unavailable for any other order 
by allotting them social conditions so 
intolerable that they collectively self- 


destruct through addiction, alcoholism, 
psychosis, hypertension, internecine vi- 
olence, and imprisonment. Both the 
success and the limits of this strategy can 
be seen in the L.A. uprising. 

As various black radicals have long 
pointed out, the system's treatment of 
black people is the extreme case — and 
testing ground — of what it is doing to all 
of us, and has been doing to all 
working-class people for generations. 
Conversely, African-Americans provide 
countless brilliant examples of how 
people can recycle the shit dumped on 
them into an ailternate order for them- 
selves, as speech, as art, and as strategy. 
African America's unabsorbed, vivid, 
rich, poor, damaged, surviving pres- 
ence is a constant reminder that capital- 
ism depends for its daily perpetuation 
on brutalizing people in every conceiv- 
able way — and that this brutalization 
can be resisted. Capitalism's central 
brutality consists in forcing people to 
choose between giving up most of their 
lives to mind-numbing, body- 
destroying toil or scrabbling for scraps 
like rats in a garbage heap. This choice 
is what the LAPD and all its kindred 

bodies exist to enforce, and this choice is 
what we must collectively refuse. 

How can we refuse it? The history of 
black people in the U.S. also teaches 
Euro-Americans that their whiteness is 
not an "ethnicity" but a dominance 
category and a denial mechanism; in 
other words, that it is empty of every- 
thing but power and forgetting. This 
forgetting really only benefits the few at 
the top of the social pyramid, and must 
be reproduced by a constant blizzard of 
"white noise" in the mass media, as well 
as by every mechanism of geographical, 
educational, and economic segregation 
the system can bring to bear. Whenever 
whiteness starts to break down, as it did 
during the "Sixties," danger looms for 
the system, because new forms of order, 
involving the refusal of work and the 
direct assertion of collective need, tend 
to appear. The young "whites" in their 
reversed baseball caps and baggy shorts 
who ran furiously through the streets 
after the LAPD verdict was announced, 
who cheerfully looted supermarkets 
alongside their black and Latino neigh- 
bors, had for the time being ceased to be 
white. To me they are a source of pride 

and hope, an emblem of the fruitful 
disorder to come. 

—Adam Cornford 

Footnotes to Shit 

1. See Marlon Riggs' excellent documentary Ethnic 
Notions for a powerful introduction to the stereotypes. 

2. The biosphere can be viewed as a vast web of 
recycling loops, centered on plants' recycling of atmos- 
pheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. The chief 
form in which entropy is dumped from the biosphere is 
heat radiated into outer space. 

3. Only thirty years ago, as Micaela DiLeonardo 
points out, pundits and sociologists were describing 
working-class Italian-Americans in almost identical 
terms to those in which they describe working-class 
African- Americans today. 

4. This may appear to contradict what I said earlier 
about white accumulationist culture; actually it confirms 
it. All over the Americas, light skinned elites that can 
pass for "pure" European are hysterical in their desire to 
separate themselves in every way from Blackness; their 
negative self-definition as un-black is part of the mulatto 
experience — as is, sadly, the Black middle-class desire to 
assimilate. J 

5. Check out, for example. Chuck Berry's "Too Much 
Monkey Business." 

6. The "Murphy Brown" affair is instructive. Hysteri- 
cal conservatives like Dan Quayle view the tendency to 
single-parent families and deadbeat absentee fathers as 
an infection bubbling up from the Black underclass 
sewage. Some liberal and even "feminist" commentators, 
on the other hand, distinguish "responsible" white upper- 
middle-class single parents like the fictional Murphy 
Brown from irresponsible, pathological underclass ones, 
breeding at the taxpayer's expense. Evidently parenting 
is to be another right, like most rights in the U.S., that 
only money can buy. 

Bud Powell's spirit laughing at the Big Stick, Birmingham AL 1963. 

F*i=SaE::E55ED kUOF^k-O 3CD 


Second- Hand Shit 

We take shelter in the glory of our 
rage because sometimes the remedy is 
worse than the disease. 

I have no excuse to be here, 
but I hold the camera that, for 
me, brings it back to me. 

In the dark now, sweepers pick up 
their last piles, toss them shovel over 
arm into black plastic trash bags and 
leave, yawning. 

I snap sporadic candids. A faint throb 
where pulses meet . . . 

I did have a foreboding a few months 
ago. Once, at a co-op health food store, 
two women pulled each other's hair in 
my peripheral view. I found them 
arguing over a used plastic bag fallen at 
our feet. Each claimed she had carried it 
from home for the ten-cents-a-bag dis- 
count for reusing plastic. 

"I've reused mine nine times." "I shop 
here every week — they know me and my 
bags." "Oh yeah? Prove it!" 

Today brought up deeper impressions 
cutting to the heart of reason. As a 
photographer, I am caught in that world 
where conflict is focusable. 

Still, I'll plead extenuating circum- 

At first, three were there besides me. 
I found the garage sale by mistake, 
having exited one street too soon in 
search of a friend's new apartment. I 
noticed a long wall of draped t-shirts in 
various colors. As I parked to the wall's 
far right side, I spotted a shirt I had 
been looking for since the shoot in the 
park last summer, a free concert in 
celebration of Black History Month. I 
decided to check out the price and 
possibly find a tacky but nostalgic gift as 
a house-warming treat. 

The t-shirt was black. Pitch black. 
Like tar. The only design was on the 
front: a red star circling red lettering 
that read: "Rock Against Racism." 

I wandered the wall before asking for 

the one I wanted. There was a table 
beneath it with baskets of cosmetic 
jewelry, moldy hardback how-to books, 
and boxes of old board games: Monop- 
oly, Shoots & Ladders, Life. I glanced 
at my watch and cut the browsing. 
Again, I was running late. Locating the 
t-shirt, I asked to pull it down and 
pinched its bottom hem as I pointed to 
it. From behind my right shoulder, a 
woman pushed ME down and back, her 
hand snagging the shirt from its hook. 

I began to wonder if 
there was a sign on 
my back that read 

"Tell me your 
favorite consumer 

story today!" 

"That's mine!" she insisted. She was in 
a brown polyester bus driver's uniform, 
apparently on a break. "I want that for 
my nephew. I saw it first." 

No problem, I thought, and raised 
my arms in surrender. I asked the man 
behind the table if he had another 
somewhere, but he just shook his head, 
not in a "no" gesture or a "yes" gesture 
for that matter, but kind of a yes/no-all 
-around-the-neck movement. Then he 
walked away. The woman with the shirt 
continued her shopping attack on me by 
walking around in circles, back and 
forth in front of the table. She began to 
tell me stories of other shopping adven- 
tures and bargains. (Yeah, by pushing 

everyone out of your way, I thought.) 

Blocked by her hyperactive pace, I 
loaded my camera: 

"The shape, the size, that color," she 
began in a staccato Spanish accent 
which made me pay more attention 
simply because I liked the sound of her 
words. "It reminded me of one my 
grandmother kept next to the wicker 
hamper in her first-floor bathroom. My 
grandfather tossed loose change into it 
while cleaning out his pants pockets 
after long days at the deli. I had to have 
it! I found it at a garage sale down the 
block from my house where almost 
weekly a tye-dyed couple sets up for 
sale. I noticed it as they were filing in 
folded chairs and card tables, boxes of 
books, t-shirts and china dolls. My little 
find rested on top of a box of bleached 
sheets. I was so excited I pointed at it 
and screamed. 

"How much, huh? How much ya 
want for that there?" 

Her voice became more charismatic 
as her body narrated along. Her passion 
gave her syllables more stress. She stretched 
out her arm, forefinger pointing like the 
conductor of some psychedelic orches- 
tra. "How much, huh? How much ya 
want for that there?" I can see her now. 

She continued: "I must have fright- 
ened them a bit because they jumped 
and turned around to catch their bal- 
ance on the bannister. But I was 
determined, and they could tell." 

She had that thrifter's look which 
made her eyes drift frantically from 
table to table. It was as though a 
perfect-purchaser's-wind-up-knob was 
wound too tightly on the back of her 
head. Those eyes justified a necessary 
purchase with some fabricated historical 
significance. Those eyes were the voy- 
euristic casualties of shell-shocked con- 
sumerism. She was determined, I could 
tell that much. I sat down on my feet 
and watched. 

"They said they promised one another 
they wouldn't sell anything past four. 
What was left over this week they 
wanted to donate to the Salvation 
Army. 'You have too much stuff, I 
said. They have too much stuff. I 
offered $15.00 although between you 
and me, it was only worth 5 or 6. They 
couldn't refuse. As they wrapped it in 
paper, they said the only use they got 
out of it was for burning incense. The 
layered ash did give it some antique look 
until I cleaned it and had it appraised. 

"It took me a week to decide where to 
place it. It was too tall for the coffee table. 



The beige patio furniture matched its 
coloring but there was always the chance 
of rain. It didn't match my kitchen's 
orange-and-green fruit-basket wallpa- 
per, and my bedroom, which I like bare 
and uncluttered, was out of the ques- 
tion. No one would see it in there. So, 
finally, after a week of placing it here, 
putting it there, even hanging it from a 
plant hook in the ceiling, I decided a 
more subtle approach would work. I 
figured that every guest pees on the 
average of at least once in a two-hour 
visit. So, I put it on the back of the toilet 
when entertaining male friends and to 
the right of the door if female friends 
arrive. If the guests are a little of each, I 
place it according to whom I want to 
impress." She takes a deep breath, 
smiles, and curls the t-shirt into her 
folded arms at her chest. 

I couldn't help but ask: "What hap- 
pens when you're alone?" 

"Oh!" she perked up, excited at my 
interest. "I shift it with my moods. Yes. 
It's nice that it moves. So, finally after a 
week of that, I returned to work." 

She said this as she walked down the 
table, glaring up and down, back and 
forth. I sat back on my ass, put my chin 
to my knees, and thought about leaving. 

"Hey!" I lifted my head and yelled 
behind her. "What IS IT anyway?" She 
couldn't hear me. Or didn't want to. She 
walked on chatting to herself and touch- 
ing everything in her reach. 

Objects piled in her arched arms. 

When I looked up, more people had 
surrounded the table and wall. Various 
people with various looks touching, 
feeling, even smelling and turning 
things around and around, checking it 
all out at different angles, bartering with 
the man behind the table whose eyes 
gradually sunk above the flimsy brown- 
ing circles beneath them. 

I couldn't tell if I was delirious from 
printing late into the night, or if there 
was some hidden agenda or theatrical 
performance about to begin. The set 
seemed unnatural. Staged. Robotic. 
Hands and arms reaching. People 
watching without looking at each other. 
Hustling. Shoving. Holding their deci- 
sions firmly in the closed curve between 
their biceps and ribs. Their sometimes 
simple movements grew into militant 
aggressive actions. I became paranoid, 
nervous that someone would get hurt, or 
the silent man behind the table would 
lose all patience and fall beneath their 
feet. Almost instinctively, I did what I 

often do in crowds: I snapped the 

I snapped their hands, their arms, 
that reaching, their excited eyes. I 
snapped until I bumped into a tall mam 
in a blue pin-striped suit, with dread- 
locks that hung like cigars over his 

"Excuse me," I stuttered. 

"Oh — no problem," his voice an- 
swered in a giddy high but a light- 
hearted change from the noise anxiety I 

He pointed to a "Share the Earth" 
t-shirt with lettering sketched to resem- 
ble branches and ivy projecting outward 
toward the shirt's edge that veered 
slightly to the back. "Isn't this great?" he 

"Nice," was all I could get out. 

"I think I'll buy it now to give to my 
niece this Christmas. I always complete 
my shopping by Thanksgiving. And 

Before I could answer, he rolled off 
into Storyville. I began to wonder if 
there was a sign on my back that read 
"Tell me your favorite consumer story 

"The first time I picked it up, it was as 
though no hands ever held it. The next 


time, all the fingerprints of time had 
gathered as a small fraction of its 
composition. I adored it." He became 
increasingly dramatic. "It seemed like 
any slight wind could cast the thing to 
the ground by tipping it sideways over 
its top-heavy stance. If it's placed prop- 
erly under light, it stretches a shadow 
over its bottom half, silhouetting itself 
on top of itself, an endless spiral echo. 

"I bought it for my mom for Christ- 
mas a few years back — a holiday, mind 
you, that encompasses the three things I 
have the most problem with: religion, 
consumerism, and sentimentality." 

I looked up from cleaning beneath my 
nails. I heard what he said but couldn't 
focus on how or why he said it. He kept 
up. I shook my head. 

"So, I figured my mom would really 
dig this statuette-something-or-another 
to put on her shelf for some Avon friend 
to admire. She'll raise that chubby peach 
hand of hers, brush it across her right 
cheek, grin (but not too much), giggle 
(but not too sweet), and say, 'Yes, my 
youngest gave that to me. Isn't he 
thoughtful?' And the Avon-giddy will 
say, 'What is it?' And mom will give 
some far-fetched story of me traveling 
from city to major city with my 
briefcase full of accounting files, meet- 
ing major bank executives for lunch and 
passing by the city's many souvenir 
shops, thinking instantly of my mother. 
Because that's what good sons do. . . 
'Oh,' the friend will reply, casting her 
oblong eyes to the ground and turning 
to the expensive fake gold watches and 
eye-wear made from sand and melted 
ear wax. (Giggle. Giggle.) 

"Yes, yes, yes. I took great pleasure in 
purchasing that thing. Seeing mom 
open it. It had the oddest shape I'd ever 
seen. Nothing near an average geome- 
tric shape. I couldn't find a box to fit it 
in. But why a box, I thought. Why not 
drape a sheet over it. Let the wind get 
up underneath to it. It's old. It's used. 
Let the elements touch it. 

"Through the airport, my right hand 
held up the heavy top half while my left 
hung on to the bottom lower platform 
by the top notch of my middle finger as I 
balanced it to the rhythm of my wcilk. 
People gawked at us, the thing and I. 
They giggled at it and snarled at my 
shoulders as I tried to fit us comfortably 
in restaurant booths or through airplane 
aisles. Having it made me suppress my 
natural urge to overpack. So I ..." 

He went on and on until I finally 
found enough nerve to excuse myself. I 

was exhausted. I began to think some- 
body was playing a trick on me. That a 
photographer friend finally called Can- 
did Camera out on me as she often 
threatens to do. That maybe I walked 
into an afternoon field trip from the 
nearest psychiatric ward. That. . . I 
never even got from him what that 
THING actually was . . . 

From their arms, everyone's choice of 
purchase advertised itself through the 
anxious look in their eyes. 

I wobbled around, heading for my car 
at the other end of the table. Conversa- 
tions were few, but when they occurred, 
it was shopping philosophy in grand, 
elaborate monologue: "I try to always 
take mother's advice at these times in 
my life." A green-eyed girl in her teens 
to a younger, adolescent blue-eyed 
friend. "If I feel down, hurt, inferior, or 
afraid, I jump right out and buy myself 
something pretty. 'Cause I'm worth it." 

Something pretty. Some thing pretty. 
I kept snapping film, looking for some- 
thing pretty in the square. Something 
old. Something new, borrowed, or that 
"Rock Against Rascism" shirt that se- 
duced me here, and to my left, she 
snooped through a box on her knees. 
She threw them over her head in haste 
as though she were being timed. They 
were variously colored scarfs, leather, 
elbow-length gloves, elastic belts and 
hair bows falling, falling from above her 
head and sliding down the shirt that 
dangled from her purse in her arm! My 
initial reaction was to snag it quickly 
enough so she'd fall back onto her box 
with its skewer set sticking out from the 
top. I felt I had failed unless I left there 
with it. I focused in on the shirt with my 
lens to not lose her in the crowd and 
headed forward. 

A black-haired arm entered my view. 
I automatically followed its round, 
choppy knuckles unbending to point to 
my own goal, hearing: 

"Hey! Hey lady — Do you really want 
that shirt? I'll pay you and the man for 
it. What 'cha say, huh? Can I have it?" 

"No, definitely not!" She barked. "Go 
on — get away from me now. You hear?" 

"Ah — come on lady. What ya want 
from that shirt? I'm a musician, man. A 
black man. A musical black man. 
Means something to me. Come on — 
Pleeeeeeze!? Please lady, give it up. I've 
been looking everywhere for one like 
that for. . ." 

Out of nowhere, she wailed: "Help! 
Help! This man's trying to rob me! 

Heads and arms ceased meandering 
as buyers. Attention now haloed above 
the confrontation between them and the 
shirt, and I again failed spontaneity 
because suddenly my mind went epic. 

Thrown from the signal of agitation, 
my sword broken and confused, my 
mind told me to snap, my eyes to move 
back from the bodies who were herding 
toward them. I wished I had for once 
been early; or maybe I was, for some 
strange reason, needed here. Here, in 
the midst of a Sunday afternoon, our 
luxury turned over on top of itself like 
the shadow of the statuette. 

As things developed, the man, the 
woman, the shirt became a loud shaky 
arena. The longer it continued unre- 
solved, the more spectators participated 
by cheering, or walking forward into 
them. Others paid for their things, or 
dropped them quickly and walked to the 
grey stones that led to the cars. 

"There they go," I heard to my right. 
"See how we are?" 

I turned and she looked at me. I 
leaned further into the gap between us 
and acknowledged her with slight 

"How are we?" I asked. 

"Bored. And addicted to it. Every- 

I inhaled and giggled a bit as I often 
do out of nervousness. Her insight was 
as poetic and melodramatic as it was 
objective and shy. I placed my thumb 
on the film advancer knob and turned. 

"Bored?" I asked. "Are we really? 
Seems like too much, don't you think?" 

I anticipated a wise and witty re- 
sponse but instead she reached up at 
me, eye-to-eye momentarily, and 
turned back again, pointing to new 
movement in the crowd as she raised her 
bony body on tip- toe. 

"Now what are they doing?" She said 
more to herself than me. "What's going 
on? I can't see over." 

I looked up and over to fill her in, 
motivated by the prospect of her ob- 
servant response. I rattled off moves. 

"A teenage boy, maybe fourteen or 
so, just entered and is pulling at the 
bottom of the shirt. Looks like he's being 
held back. Oh. Maybe that's his mother 
behind him. Wait. Wait. I can't quite 
see. Everyone's moving forward again. 
There are three or four surfer-type guys 
.exiting to the right. Oh shit! They're 
going for the wall. Wow — snagging 
those shirts while the others are preoc- 
cupied. Huh. . ." I had to laugh. It was 
becoming an obstacle course of move- 


graphic by Cory Potts 

ments both predictable and full of 
suspense. Suddenly, I thought of the 
man behind the table. Where was he? I 
couldn't focus in on him anywhere. I 
clicked my lens to macro and searched 
around the foreground. The back- 
ground. I stood on a milk crate and 
pointed directly into the circle's center. 
No table man in sight. 

"Oh no you don't," came a tiny voice 
from behind. The table man was run- 
ning past us now toward the wall 
looters. "Buy up or leave!" Wow — he 

There were too many things going on 
at once by this time. I didn't know where 
to look, what to shoot. Like most sports, 
I didn't know if I should keep my eyes 
on the ball or the strategy of the defense 
on the other side. The table man 
became the ball. He became the object 
to throw for a possible score. 

He jived back and forth from the 
w£ill, the table, the people, the circle. 
His neck shifted back to the street as 
though in search of help, then to the 

ground looking for landing in case he 
fell. I felt caught in the grass beneath 
me. Here and there, I pointed my 
camera. Missing only pom-poms and 
saddle shoes. Wise Woman clapped at 
my side, cheering on the jester-like 
movements of Table-Man. 

"Here we go!" she cheered. 

"Shouldn't we call someone or some- 
thing?" I asked, my voice rising with the 
crowd noise. 

"Oh — this happens here every Sun- 
day. The cops will be here in about [she 
glances at her wrist watch] oh, I'll guess 
ten minutes. The sweeping crew will 
follow shortly after them. I hear they get 
paid overtime for this. This is why I 
come here. Best Sunday afternoon en- 
tertainment I can think of. And you? 
Don't worry honey — if you don't want to 
get hurt or involved at all, just don't 
walk any closer. You're in the safe 

If I don't want to get hurt or any- 
thing? What the hell? I definitely took a 
wrong turn somewhere. Everyone was 

running in circles except for me and 
Miss What's-her-name here. I was feel- 
ing pressed to get involved, but I 
couldn't figure out how many sides there 
were anymore. My maternal instincts 
rose up. I wanted to find the table man 
in the crowd, clear away all small 
children and pregnant women, which 
seemed to be numerous here, maybe 
find a phone, dial 911 


It began as a small flame until the 
heat of the day and the heat of the spark 
and the heat of flying language branded 
MY CAR as bombfire material. I saw 
that shirt on my way in and parked as 
closely as possible with my lazy self, and 
so here, on the verge of a decision, my 
car, my prints in the back seat, my glove 
compartment with exposed film from 
the past two weeks of work, all grew into 
one wild burgundy-blue decision right 
before my very eyes: MY CAR! MY 


I ran for it. From behind, Wise 
Woman yelled, "Go get 'em Honey! 
Break a Leg!" And she was laughin' and 
hootin' and a'hollerin', cheering on my 
sudden participation. I felt sick with 
anger and ran. 

As I reached the back bumper, an- 
other explosion set off on the front hood, 
loud enough to scare the people who'd 
begun to cheer on the fire. They had 
forgotten their angry ordeals with each 
other, and now my car in flames 
provided a unifying spectacle. 

I was shaking. Whenever I get this 
angry, I throw everything from my 
person. I threw off my camera, my jean 
jacket, my bracelets and rings. I tossed 
my earrings into the fire, untied my 
sweater from around my waist and 
hurled it over the crowd catching the 
potpourri of eyes on ME now. Some 
expressionless, others curious, antici- 
pating my next move. 

From the middle, someone yelled: 
"Take it off, baby!" And then from 
somewhere else: "Yeah, lady — take it 
off. Go for it!" They were whistling and 
staring and clapping in unison. 

My hands were clutching the bottom 
of my shirt, which unconsciously I 
meant to disrobe. My stomach held heat 
from the fire. My left hand covered my 
navel as the right pulled down my shirt. 
I reddened and warmed with embar- 
rassment. In shock from unexpected 
attention, I squatted to the ground, 
limp, when both my arms were taken 
up by two policemen who not only threw 
me into their car, but proceeded to 
shovel the rest of us into other vehicles. 

We were held for three hours with no 
fine. While waiting out the time, I was 
told that's average for these Sunday 
charades. It all depends on the officers 
moods and the amount of mess left by 
sunset. Last week, the time was only one 
hour. My car provided more debris. 

Now, the sweepers are jellyfish hitting 
against the glass of an unkempt aquari- 
um, wrinkling their flabby collarets, 
fraying the near-ending natural light. 

Me? I guess I do have an excuse to be 
here. I snap sporadic candids until the 
sun falls down. 

Next week I hear there'll be . 

■Marina Lazzara 




When this society finally finishes 
the job 
and drags me off to the madhouse 
I'm not going to fight or even 
swear at the officers that tai<e 
me in BUT... 

as soon as I hear those doors 
slam behind me I'm not gonna 
give those people a rest 
If there's any justice in this 
country it will be in the marrow 

of my bones 
and since escape will probably 
be impossible 

1 can at least wrestle with the 
goons on the ward 
kick the nurse in the shins 
throw food on the floor and at people 
piss on the walls 

scribble obscene words on the lavatory walls 
and other such rebel acts 
that come to mind 
And . . . 

the reason why is 1 would hate 
for the state that it had anything 
like a human face and were actually 
helping me 

—Dale W. Russell 

In the alien world, lamp posts are shaped like needles, eyes bright 

and the rest still lit but paler. Beings nod in greeting, 

rarely talk, grow flowers which they cut and give as gifts 

which then take root automatically. Each house operates 

its own air supply. Cuts heal of their own accord. 

For metaphysical cuts, a being leans toward any being's chest 

and thus is healed. No one reminds anyone of anyone else. 

Advanced art allows invisible statues, glossed 

in annuals spiral-bound. I visited once. 

They put me to work at a train station, sweeping. 

— Muriel Karr 


Where's thick hair on the sidewalk mats n greased I, 
to the festering buildings clothe my eyes, asleep 
in their vacant swarm, where the coffee in the gutters 
streams, could I be there and clearly catch a bus? 
Or's severing, like the gravel pants 1 wear so I sit, 
but lurch but never sit, just stand under a rain of 
dust (where the roofs dissolve, and the windows fill 
with chain) Could I sceptre there, with this rod 
through my neck, where that whined jaw in the doorway 

—John M. Bennett 


He moved through 

the abstract city, 

speaking in tunnels of chrome, 

his body outlined 

by the pressure 

of light. 

On the street he was preceded 

by an empty jacket 

filled with wind. 

It protected his thinking. 

Waking far behind 

again, he returned 

to the wall of circuits: 

The woman in hospital clothes 

escapes, killing the janitors. 

The cars blow up. 

Pock faced men 

hit each other harder and harder until 

one of them falls 

dead. The surgeon emerges 

from a successful implant. 

The womb now harbors 

the perfect child. 

In the deep deep 
oceans, purse-seine nets 
pull up everything 
in their boundary. 

— Richard Osbom Hood 


If at the end of the day 

we find ourselves the only Empire 

still standing, see 

... if our day is followed by record night 
dark beyond our design 
but our making — yes 

... if we dream ourselves 
avenging angels with forked tongues 
civilized — with infrared eyes . . . 

—D.S. Black 



I have thrown myself into battle to forget you; 

1 carry my fat belly like a purple heart. 
1 have staggered across the sand to rescue a fallen manikin; 

I dodge saliva of policemen who resemble your brother. 
1 have raised the flag of refuge over the ruins of my castle; 

1 free prisoners who have neither history nor hope. 
I have made the sun rise on a leaflet as the sun set; 

I build a camp in the city to house emptiness. 
1 have sipped icy blood in the shade of television cameras; 

1 dodge the saliva of policemen who resemble your lover. 
1 have inquired for the reasons behind lies and other sacred mysteries; 

1 write you letters just to say hello. 
1 have thrown myself into battle to remember you; 

I carry my fat belly like a purple heart. 
I have committed my spirit to the future; 

I die and am buried on the same planet you call home. 


(Excerpted from P.S. for Personal Secretaries) 

When you cannot remember your hand you are perceived 

When you cannot remember 

When you cannot remember your hand 

You identify 12 inches of your p^hysical self 

When you answer the telephone professional when 

"I'm Sally Jones it's nice to see you again" 

It projects competence and your worth as well 

— Richard Wool 

— Daue Linn 

graphic by S. Devaney 


This is a reminder that 

coincident with 

the theft of 

a computer from 

the office where 

the desk is where 

the special keys for 

the special areas of 

security, the special keys were also taken. 

This is a reminder that 

any keys which 

you do not keep on 

your person should 

be kept in 

a safe or a locked cabinet that's screwed 

securely down. 

The top drawers of 

an unlocked desk 

are the first places that a thief will look. 

In view of the above 

it is hoped you will remember that within reason. 

Sincerely and in confidence 

with your cooperation 

I feel sure we can 

within reason protect 

our fund of prepositions. 

— Edward Mycue 


Let's talk data. 

You're dBased. All sorted out. All out of sorts. 

More debris from the Information Age 

Scattershot rattletrap ricochet all the way home. 

The usual chew on this, buddy. Very infotaining. 

The word "networking" has acquired so many meanings 

It now means everything. So give it up, give in to it. 

There's twelve steps out there somewhere 

That address your particular problem. 

As opposed to that dweeb over there, 

Who imagines himself an information surfer in mid-dude-ism, 

But in a parallel reality he's just a guy with an ulcer for a job, 

A flycasting wannabe 

With a Sharper Image catalog for an imagination. 

Watch the undertow, buddy. Watch the undertow. 

We didn't make this world, so we'll have to lie to it. 

Is it resume time? We'll let you know. 

News is not reported, it is released 

Wicked as a spitball. Write a personals ad: 

Desperate seeking insanely desperate. Someone 

Who will take me. 

Upload it to the on-line service. She'll buy it. 

Why not? She's a consumer. 

Dinner, drinks, dancing, and maybe later, 


That's the way business is done. It's a career. 

Not your life or anything. Now bend over. 

With enough coke it can even seem like pleasure. 

But don't forget to count them beans. Keep your receipts. 

The city is just a conduit for business. 

Plug and play. Plug away. Spelunk your synapses for the next innovation: 

Misfire or mismanagement. Rising stars go nova, 

Down on the carpet, then out on your ass. Resume time! 

Jerk your fingers to the known. You've got connections. 

Work them puppies! So there it is: 

The state of the art, the art of the state. 

All wired up and nothing to know. 

We'll get back to you. 

— David Fox 


PF^aCZESSEE] hJLjaf^k_a 3C3 


you walk down the street 
and you see the people 
staring at you, faceless 
and loud, gaping holes 
where the heads are supposed 
to be, yawning wide, big 
holes, little holes, 

they're covering their entire 
bodies, soon it looks like 
one big hole, the more the 
merrier, the better to 
swallow you up with my 
dear, and i pause to think 
about how we're ingested 
then spit out every day 
of our lives, i keep 
looking for plugs to 
stop them up, but all 
i seem to find are 
tongues, and they are 
just a little bit 

—Scott C Holstad 


You have seen the old woman 
seen her crumbling silhouette 
between two immense buildings 
where there is just enough room 
for her and her possessions 

and the night that rots 
in the morning sky. And you passed 
her on another sidewalk 
emerging from her abyss behind 
the laundromat. She did not follow 

but you walked faster. You did not know 
or care that she has had the perfect answer 
burning in her head for fifty years 
and will die still waiting to be asked. 
Old woman who hears bees shudder. 

Who can hear the teeth in the roses 
gnash, forecasting winter. Old woman 
who carries heaven in one plain brown 
bag and hell in another. Old woman 
who raises generations of spiders 

in the space between her fingertips. 
Old woman who cradles a broken clock. 
Old woman who paces outside the room 
of her son, the dollmaker (he keeps 
pink fingers in a blue jar). Old woman 

who comforts her other son, the mathematician 
(he has dreamed again of the number one 
whipping the number two into infinity). 
Old woman who plucks hairs from the nostrils 
of a statue. Old woman who tries vainly 


graphic by Man Bianca 

to scrub the filth from the bottom 

of an idea. Old woman who puffs smoke 

from her dead husband's pipe 

as she watches the tides rise and fall 

in the privacy of an imaginary bathtub. 

Old woman who catalogs lace. Old woman 
who guides eggs to paradise. Old woman who 
cackles in the corridors of history, burned 
and reviled — condemned to psychiatry. 
To drugs named after dead gods. Old woman 

of flesh, of hair, of bone and bone 
and bone. Old woman who suffers eruptions 
of light from her forehead. Old woman 
ground fine by the seasons. Old woman 
like powder in the wind, blown into 

eternity, unseen, unseen. You have passed 
this woman by, but you will come to her. 
When your ruptured life spills dust 
on the empty page. When the air you breathe 
tastes thin and sour as the air 

forced into brain dead patients, strapped 
to terrible machines. When the mangled fruit 
of youth lies fermenting and rotten 
on the sidewalks of city after city. Then 
you will come to her, and she will float 

two beads of oil in a glass of clear 
water, and when the two join together you will 
know her as your mother, your sister, your 
wife, your self, and then and only then 
will she kiss and make you better. 

— Jack Evans 




I'M A SUPERVISOR of a group home for mentally handi- 
capped people. Don't let the supervisor title fool you, I'm 
just an hourly wage slave with a title. Interspersed with 
a four year stint at a state college, I've done various work 
to survive: concrete laborer, dairy plant worker, data 
entry person, janitor, salesman, stagehand, liquor store 
clerk. In between I hitchhiked in Europe, living off my 
savings and the hospitality of people I met along the way. 
When I returned to America I started my present occupation. 

Basically I believe that work is an 
oppressive rather than uplifting aspect 
of life, taking time away from more in- 
teresting pursuits. The time spent slav- 
ing for someone else could best be used 
to expand your own horizons. If your 
whole day is filled with mindless repeti- 
tious work you are bound to become 
brain dead in the process. The work 
done by millions of people in America 
could be done by thousands, thus free- 
ing people to better society, educate 
themselves and pursue their own indi- 
vidual interests. 

I don't judge my life by my work. I'm 
not a good soldier. I've participated in 
sabotage on almost every job. Sabotage 
can be extreme or it can be as simple as 
cheating your boss out of time. 

Ultimately, for it to be effective it 
should be done in a way that allows you 
to keep your job. Any act of sabotage is 
worthy. Remember, the clean fingered 
business types are stealing millions and 
anything you can do to stop them is 

As a concrete laborer I was required to 
do specialized jobs. Sometimes a septic 
tank orwater container was being formed. 
Each needed openings so that pipes could 
be run through once the form was 
poured. On a few occassions I conve- 
niently forgot to place the inserts in the 
form. Once it was poured and hardened 
the bosses realized there was no pipe 
inlet and outlet out of the tanks. I feigned 
ignorance and received a tongue lashing 
but the hulking piece of concrete was 
scrapped. In a dairy plant I stacked bags 
of sweet whey and tiien stabbed the bags 

just as they were being loaded on a truck. 
When the truck reached its destination 
the sweet whey had turned into a con- 
gealed mess. Working a cash register 
creates endless possibilities. The easiest 
thing to do is have friends buy various 
items and then charge them for only one 
item. Or if a customer is looking for an 
item, inform the customer that the same 
item can be bought at another store for 
a cheaper price. 

I've continually tried to unionize ev- 
ery workplace I've been in because in the 
workplace there are no rights. The 
present business unionism practiced by 
the AFL-CIO is a sellout, but unions still 
give workers a small chance at equality in 
the workplace. Every effort on my part to 
organize has resulted in colossal failure. 
Usually I'm shown the door or the effort 
dies because of lack of interest. Many 
workers are afraid and labor laws make it 
next to impossible for workers to orga- 
nize. It is coming to the point where even 
workers who want to unionize can not. 

I tried to organize my present job with 
SEIU organizers. The process is long and 
involves inside information gathering and 
above all the ability to maintain stealth. 
You must have the ability to choose people 
who are fed up with their jobs and then 
use their discontent in productive ways. 
Occassionally this yields some surprises, 
as when the most right-wing person sup- 
ports you and the progressive type ig- 
nores you. Our effort had evolved to the 
point where we had gathered informa- 
tion about the company and employees. 
We began going door to door and talk- 
ing to people. The company was in the 

dark, but we made a fatal mistake. One 
day the organizers and I met in a local 
diner and discussed tactics and new in- 
formation. Unfortunately, a boss from a 
similar company was at the next table 
and overheard everything said. By the 
time I arrived at work the phone was 
ringing off the hook and I was asked to 
make an appearance at the office the 
next day. I was identified as the culprit 
and questioned about my role. I denied 
everything but by then it was too late, the 
company began churning out anti-union 
memos and support for our effort faded. 
As an example of their good will I was not 

Failing that I joined the IWW and 
proudly pay dues even though it doesn't 



affect my work place. Their talk of worker 
control (even if it is only talk) is the kind 
of talk I want to hear. Other unions may 
have big memberships and loads of 
money, but they are mostly full of shit. 
They sold out years ago and are paying 
the price now. 

As I mentioned, I supervise a home 
for handicapped people. When I tell 
people what I do their reply is always the 
same: "Oh that's great, you are doing 
God's work! "or "You don't make much 
money do you?" Wanting to bash their 
brains in, I tell them it's not "God's 
work", it's the dirty work of the state and 
system which regards human needs as 
secondary. The politicians like to have 
their pictures taken v«th smiling re- 
tarded people but that is the extent of 
their good will. Pennsylvania group 
homes are run for profit by individuals 
who form companies and get funds from 
the state. The agreement benefits both 
since the individual makes a profit and 
the state doesn't have to pay union scale 
or benefits. 

No I don't make a lot of money! How 
the fuck could I? 

Group homes are spread across the 
state. The area I work in has 13 homes 
and a day program. The concept of a 
group home may look good but it doesn ' t 
work. Homes were set up so that higher 
functioning clients (our word for the 
people we work with) could attain skills 
needed to integrate into the commu- 
nity. Instead, clients are dumped in sites 
regardless of ability. Some sit in chairs 
drooling and staring at television. Oth- 
ers have so many medical problems and 
are so medicated you wonder how they 




w»/?/r5...piRsr, the media report the OAY'S 


5V5TEM .' 



^tP-r ALARK^- 
5H0UL0 PO 

are able to stay alive. 

The workers are supposed to be an 
idealistic type willing to work for slave 
wages, even though they are generally 
not the social welfare types. If they are, 
they eventually decide to work in other 
fields once they get a taste of group 
home work. We get a cross section of 
displaced workers from every walk of 
life. Many sincerely believe in the work 





they do. Other times small time thieves 
are hired, copy the keys and rob the site 
of appliances and money. Most people 
are doing the job until they find some- 
thing else, so they say. Because of our 
rotten economy, more people like my- 
self are staying. This bothers the com- 
pany because they may have to pay us 
pensions one day. 

I am a "supervisor." I'm paid by the 
hour. I have no power to hire or fire. I 
"supervise" 2 workers and 3 clients. I'm 
proud to say that my co-workers and I 
have completely rearranged the work 
place according to our own needs. We 
come to work when we want and leave 
when we want. We cover for each other in 
everyway and recognize that our loyalties 
are with each other rather than manage- 
ment. As supervisor, it's my job to do all 
the mindless paperwork, feed and medi- 
cate clients, take them to appointments, 
meetwith case workers and family, create 
behavior modification programs, handle 
finances and if someone shits in their 
shorts I have to clean it up. 

My guys are a fun group. One man 
has a fetish for calendars and menus. He 
can tell you the day your birthday falls 
on in a given year. He has a history of 
running out of the house and terroriz- 
ing diners or supermarkets. My favorite 


story was the time he burst into a church 
demanding holy calendars in the midst 
of a choir practice. Because of him we 
have to lock ourselves into the house 
lest he run wild. Another man is a clean 
freak who only cares about doing chores. 
The third man in the group is a non-stop 
talker who idolizes Lawrence Welk. His 
passion is coffee and if you don't give 
him his daily ration you are in for some 
heavy shit. Given all the craziness, the 
job is extremely stressful. The turnover 
rate is high and some people have had 
breakdowns on the job. 

The company I work for is your typi- 
cal hierarchical outfit. The President is 
the sole shareholder in the company. 
She sits like a grand poobah over her 
empty bureaucratic domain of accoun- 
tants and useless middle managers. We 
are one big happy family working to- 
gether in peace and prosperity. Family 
style management is the most mislead- 
ing, unfair and ultimately ridiculous at- 
tempt at making workers powerless. The 
company tries to include us in decision 
making but once we complain they do 
whatever they damn well please. When 
we point out the humanitarian need for 
our work and just pay, they call it a 
business. When we call it a business they 
call it humanitarian. Recognizing that 
unionization is a threat to their 
moneymaking scam, they have given 
workers like me the title of supervisor, 
thinking that we will believe we are man- 
agement. Once a year they dole out 
pitiful raises of 25 cents an hour and 
lump sum bonuses that amount to 1 2 to 
15 cents per hour. Of course all this is 
incumbent on whether or not the state 
has any money. Of course, there 
shouldn't be a profit making middle 
person standing between the state and 
workers to begin with. Those that do the 
work should get the money. 

Because I work in a house, my boss 
expected me to do repairs and yard 
work. I explained to her that since I do 
not own the house it was not my respon- 
sibility. Every week the grass grew taller 
and taller. The rebellion spread to other 
sites and they had to hire a maintenance 
man. So not only did I decrease my 
workload by standing up to the assholes, 
but I helped someone else get a job. 
Another time my boss informed me that 
I would have to dress the part. Anyone in 
their right mind knows that working 
with handicapped people is not the 
cleanest job. I told her that I would only 
comply with company policy if the com- 
pany gave me a fat raise to pay for all the 
luxurious clothing they wanted me to 


wear. They eventually gave up. 

We do get 2 months paid vacation a 
year, but every second of it is needed 
since you are usually on the verge of 
insanity by the time a vacation comes 
arouncl. As for medical benefits, we pay 
into the insurance company each pay- 
day plus there is a large deductible. The 
plan only helps you if you have a serious 
problem. At one time the money was 
deducted according to your salary. But 
the higher ups "democratized" the pro- 
cess by making it a flat rate for everyone. 
Thus someone who makes $50,000 a 
year pays the same as someone who 
makes $15,000 a year. Because lower 
scale workers are more numerous they 
wind up paying for the less numerous 
higher scale people. I don't even call 
the higher ups workers since I've never 
been able to understand what they do, 
besides sitting on their fat asses. 

So having said all this, why do I do it? My 
occupation may seen benign because it 
seeks to help the disadvantaged, but I'm 
still a worker and I'm still getting screwed. 
I dislike being a slave but recognize the 
need to support myself Imagine trying to 
live off the meager crumbs the state gives 

you for being on welfare. People con- 
standy say, "Why don't you quit if you 
don't like it." or "Find a better job." 

I don ' t subscribe to the quitter school. 
In the American economy there are no 
"betterjobs."The high paying manufac- 
turing and technology base has eroded 
and even if Japan and other countries 
opened their doors to trade what would 
we sell them? America makes great mili- 
tary weapons but when was the last time 
you bought a surface to air missile? 

So the options are few, you can hop 
from slave job to slave job or you can stay 
in a job and try to radicalize the work- 
place. I have chosen to stay. It is fine to 
theorize and complain about the work 
place. But it seems to me that words 
must eventually lead to action. Change 
never has been easy in this country, but 
it happens when people take a prin- 
cipled stand. I don't profess to have all 
the answers, nor can I be a guide for 
others who must make an individual 
thoice. I know one thing: I'm staying for 
the long run and I'm going to be a pain 
in the ass until they carry me away kick- 
ing and screaming. 


F>e=^aEZE55EC] kUOi^h-CI 3C3 



BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, THE mid 1980s. A deep malaise saps 
the energy of this once-proud nation. Everything is gray. And 
damp. The next General Election is an eternity away and there's 
precious little hope of a Labor victory anyway. Thatcher survives a 
bomb attack, bouncing back with renewed popularity. The miners are 
on strike forever, and with every passing day seem less likely to achieve 
their demands. Unemployment is up, public health care down, public 
housing being sold off. For students (of which I am one), cuts 
increasingly make higher education a sport for the rich. Everyone I 
know is on the fiddle, "freelancing" at some menial cash-in-hand job 
to supplement their unemployment benefit or student grant. 


This then is the stark background 
against which I became a professional 

On and off for about two years I 
supplemented my paltry student grant 
(and later, once I had graduated to the 
dole queue, my unemployment ben- 
efit), by donating my sperm: £7 a sample, 
two samples a week, Tuesday and Thurs- 
day mornings. To write of it now is 
liberating since I never get to mention it 
on my resume. 

There I was, strapped for cash and 
work-shy, faced with the harsh reality of 
having to find some source, however 
modest, of income. It was while I was 
working Saturdays in a toy store that I 
heard from a friend about the sperm 
bank. To someone like me — earning 
£1 .25 an hour selling play-dough — jerk- 

ing off for £7 a shot seemed like a very 
civilized way to make ends meet. Admit- 
tedly, £14 a week wasn't much, but it 
covered my weekly food bill; besides, I 
thought, right now most of my sperm 
just ends up on the sheets — why not get 
paid for it instead? 

Unfortunately, my first test sample 
was rejected. "They all died," the female 
doctor said unkindly of my sperm when 
I called by phone to learn the results. 
Silence. "Look, why don't you try again 
next week," she said, sensing my dejec- 
tion. I did, as much out of anxiety as out 
of a need to make money — if my sperm 
was defective I wanted to know about it. 

Second time lucky. Thus began what 
was to become for me a Tuesday and 
Thursday morning ritual. First thing, 
before I even cleaned my teeth, I would 

ejaculate into a small plastic jar (I had a 
bag of them stashed under the bed). 
Undoubtedly the hardest parts of the 
job were: a) having the presence of 
mind first thing in the morning to have 
the jar handy, and b) making sure it was 
angled correctly to receive the valuable 
fluid. This achieved (and I missed more 
than once) , all I had to do was screw the 
top on the jar and place it in one of the 
white plastic pouchs supplied by the 
sperm bank, taking care to keep the jar 
upright. Each pouch had a tag on which 
I wrote my code number — everything 
anonymous, no names. From the point 
ofejaculation the clock was ticking, since 
a condition of employment was that the 
sperm be delivered within one hour of 
its production, while it was still fresh. 

The clinic which housed the sperm 
bank was an institutional red brick build- 
ing, the sperm bank itself part of an 
annex that was nothing more than a 
glorified prefabricated hut. I delivered 
my pouch to an office staffed by three 
middle-aged women who were always in 
the middle of a conversation. At first this 
was a source of some embarrassment, 
but it quickly became a financial trans- 
action like any other. I would hand over 
the pouch (which they gingerly placed 
in a shallow cardboard tray, along with 
any other recently-arrived samples), and 
give them my code number. In exchange 
they paid me £7 cash. The transaction 
took about two minutes and was usually 

F>F^I=1C:E55ED LJjaf=ML.El 3CD 

The position could be filled 
by anyone with a dick, 
an average sperm count, 
and a desperate need 
for money, i.e. a I 
segment of 
town's pop^Stio; 

accompanied by pleasantries about the 

What kind of qualifications does one 
need to be a sperm donor? Contrary to 
popular mythology, donors were not 
required to have the body of a Greek 
god, the brain of Einstein, and the sperm 
count of a prize bull. In fact, on the 
contrary, it seemed the position could 
be filled by anyone with a dick, an aver- 
age sperm count, and a desperate need 
for money, i.e. a large segment of the 
town's population. 

Because the semen market was lim- 
ited, there was, in the interest of avoid- 
ing competition, a tacit agreement 
amongst the donors that information 
about the sperm bank be given spar- 
ingly. Although contact with other do- 
nors rarely amounted to more than a 
comradely nod as you crossed paths 
entering or leaving the clinic, it was 
instinctively understood that we were 
on to a good thing, and that our inter- 
ests were best served by keeping quiet 
about it. To those hundreds of young 
men toiling away in drudge jobs paying 
less than £2 an hour, the idea of getting 
paid £7 for having a wank would've 
seemed too good to be true. If word got 
around we'd be competing with the 

sperm of every Tom, Dick, and Harry, 
and the pressure of performing under 
such conditions would doubtless dimin- 
ish the quality of our product. For that 
reason we kept it our little secret. 

Until that time I'd never given my 
sperm much thought. It had always 
seemed the right color and consistency, 
and the quantity seemed about right. 
Now I put it in ajar and scrutinized it 
twice weekly. I was amazed at how much 
it varied in quality and quantity one 
week to the next. Sometimes, when it 
was thick and creamy, I affected a manly 
swagger as I entered the clinic; other 
times it was transparent and thin, like 
runny snot, and I would make a hasty 
exit before my meager offering was dis- 
covered and someone from the clinic 
came chasing after me, demanding their 
moneyback. Such inferior samples could 
usually be explained by a drinking binge, 
having a cold, being stressed out, too 
much recreational wanking, or (more 
rarely) having got laid the night before. 

Nor did the erratic quality of my 
produce go unnoticed at the clinic. Sev- 
eral times during my career I was "laid 
off' for periods of a month at a time. On 
one occasion when I went to deliver my 
morning offering, the woman behind 

the desk consulted her list to find a 
notation against my number. "Have a 
rest, dear," she said with a tone of con- 
cern that made me suspect she knew 
something I didn't. "Come back in a 
month," she said. I left crestfallen. 

One day out of the blue I was asked to 
give a blood sample, and they asked me 
questions about my medical history, and 
if I smoked marijuana. I hed. That they 
bothered to interview me makes me 
uspect that I am a biological father at 

.^Jkast once. 

'^4 How does it feel being the possible 
^^er of an indefinite number of prog- 

tChy? Actually, it doesn't feel like any- 
thing. I don't lie awake at night 
A*2wondering about the child (ren) I will 
never know, contemplating a gallant 
quest against all odds to discover their 
identity. I have barely given it a second 
thought. I was, you might say, profoundly 
alienated from my labor. 

Even if I wanted to, there's no way I 
can ever find out if my sperm was even 
used for artificial insemination, let alone 
the identity of the child (ren) that may 
be my biological offspring. Nor, I am 
assured, is there any way they can find 
me. Strangely this has never really made 
me anything more than slightly curious. 
The one time I did feel uneasy about the 
idea of someone profiting from my 
bodily fluids (after all, £7 is not much 
for a life), I rationalized that it was a 
National Health Service, i.e. free, clinic, 
and persuaded myself that I was helping 
give the miracle of life to unhappy young 
couples who, for whatever reason, 
couldn ' t have biological children of their 

But really it was just the easiest way I 
knew of at the time to make money, the 
path of least resistance. At £7 for ten 
minutes work, prorated it still works out 
as the best hourly wage I've ever made. 
And what's more, I loved my job. 

— Iguana Mente 



The Let's Qet ■"" 
Press Department 

At first blush, it might appear that 
Bay Area zine pubUshers are obsessed 
with sex. In even the best of times one 
might ask, well, who isn't? 

There never were any good old days. 
The recent interminable, empty debate 
over '"family values" and the bone-chill- 
ing cynicism it betrays are all part of the 
moral bankruptcy in this "moaning of 
America. "With Sarajevo and South Cen- 
tral L.A. but a channel-hop away, we see 
the spectacle of cities burning some- 
where beyond that horizon, behind the 
phosphordot screen which is a window- 

"Gossip is the new pornography," 
Michael Murphy says to Woody Allen in 
Manhattan. One doesn't have to be a 
Fergie or a Mia or Woody, however, to 
see in this daynage privacy besieged. 
Anyone who doesn't buy into these cut- 
rate "family values" risks being branded 
a sexual outlaw, the new pariah. 

In an information economy, the body 
more than ever is in question, with death, 
pleasure, freedom and responsibility 
locked in a nightmare embrace. Sex as a 
commodity represents "the world's old- 
est profession" — yet it is also a natural 
law imperative of lovers and libertines 
which, leaving aside the procreative urge 
to survivevidi one's offspring, is one area 
of human experience most resistant to 
official injunction. Attitudes to and ex- 
pressions of sexual necessity are as good 
a barometer of the state of things as 

Anything That Moves #4. This mag, 
subtitled "beyond the myths of bisexual- 
ity," is really omnisexual, "creating a 
movement for acceptance and support 
of human diversity." With articles on bis 
in Germany, media criticism of the Brit- 
ish press 's post mortem trashing of 
Queen singer Freddie Mercury, an ad- 
vice column "What Your Mother Never 
Told You" and much more. $6, 4/$25. 
Checks to BABN, 2404 California St. 
#24, SF,CA 94115. 

Diseased Pariah News #5. Talk about 
yer bad attitude, what could be more 
twisted than gallows humor by and 
about People With AIDS? DPN may be 

dark, but it manages to be both hilari- 
ous and mordant, with a sprinkling of 
recipes ("GET FAT, don't die!"), re- 
views of books (Derek Humphry's F?na/ 
Exit, a how to commit suicide manual) , 
reviews of dildoes, a centerfold boy, 
another advice column ("Ask Aunt 
Kaposi"), and in this recent issue, a 
flexi-disc ("Songs of DPN"). c/o Men's 
Support Center, POB 30564, Oakland, 
CA94604. $3;4/$10. 

Frighten the Horses #8-9. "My dear, I 
don't care what these affectionate 
people do, as long as they don't do it in 
the streets and frighten the horses." 
This line from the Gay Nineties well 
describes this "document of the sexual 
revolution." A melange of social com- 
mentary, news, reviews, fiction and po- 
etry, these issues include a reprint from 
Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto, a 
Michael Botkin article on the recent 
NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy 
Love Association) witch hunt by local 
media opportunists. Kim Addonizio 
tells a nasty "Bedtime Story." Cris 
Gutierrez ruminates on rape in "Men 
Are Dogs," and tells how learning that 
male orangutans rape females yielded 
new insights into the male condition, 
while Kris Kovic has an idea or two on 
"WTiat to Do with Rapists." On a lighter 
note, Susan Carlton takes us behind 
the scenes at Disneyland to a fantastic 
orgy island. Editor Mark Pritchard sets 
the tone, both playful and deadly seri- 
ous, in a cautionary column linking the 
high mortality rate of walk-on charac- 
ters in Star Trek (often dead before the 
opening credits run) with the 
marginalized poor, female, people of 
color, and queer, warning that "Your 
guest appearance is likely to be very 
brief." Provocative, and once read, in- 
dispensable. $4, 4/$ 14. 41 Sutter St. 
#1108, SF,CA 94104 

Girljock #5-6. A fun, spunky mag for 
jockettes and wannabes — "fuck the well 
of loneliness; we're here to have fun." 
Susie Bright talks about life after On Our 
Backs, and how she isn't really a jock, 
being the child of nerds. Lotsa readers 

write in with tales of paradise lust and 
sundry indiscretions. Angela Bocage has 
some "Major Fun" telling comicstyle the 
"unrepentant confessions of a baton 
twirler." Laura Miller defends female 
energy conservation in "Girl Sloth." 
Wicked, wonderful stuff $2.95, 4/$ 12. 
2060 Third St., Berkeley, CA 94710. 

No Longer Silent .'#4/ 5. After a couple 
of years' hiatus, this digest-sized zine is 
back with a vengeance. Editor Eliza 
Blackweb takes issue with the sympa- 
thetic attention shown elsewhere in the 
anarchist press for NAMBLA and other 
sexual outlaws she views as abusive. 
Both NLS! and Frighten the Horses pro- 
vide crucial information on"Regaining 
Control. . .Taking Health Care Into Our 
Own Hands" with "Guerrilla Abortion 
in the Post-Roe 90s." Pretty wide cover- 
age, ranging from Rodney King, bill- 
board alteration, "Radical Women in 
the Sex Industry," a Lester Bangs re- 
print, and some very fine color graph- 
ics. POB 3582, Tucson, AZ 85722. $3, 

Prisoncamp Reality, by Bob Z. This is a 
ghoulish but elegant pocket chapbook 
of about 40 poems by the singer, 
posterer, publisher oiBadNewz, and all- 
round dangerous dude. Hard to resist 
with titles like "You're a Miserable Cog 
in the Wheel,Johnny" and Hues that run 
"whether or not we consent we get 
searched/by bureaucrats filled with con- 
tempt for humanity/more and more 
frequently driving us in/to the dark 
recesses of prisoncamp reality. " The tape 
is about an hour in length, and Bob's 
razor rasping brings out the best in his 
fugitive rhymes and repetitions. Panic 
Button Press. POB 14318, SF, CA941 14. 
$3.95 book; $5.95 tape; $8.95 both ppd. 

Real Girl #3. This one's a winner. 
Edited by Angela Bocage, this 
comiczine features some familiar 
names — Tom Tomorrow, Kris Kovick, 


and of course Angela — as well as some 
welcome discoveries, covering every- 
thing from "The Psychobabology of 
Women's Humor" (about dyke stand- 
up comedians) to an amusing S & M 
coming of age story by Judy Becker. 
Available from Fantagraphic Books, 
7563 Lake City Way NE, Seatde, WA 
98115. $3.50 

Taste of Latex #6. The current issue 
might just as aptly be titled "Taste of 
Leather," focusing on S & M. Plenty 
here to whet the appetite, with photos 
by Mark Chester, Charles Gatewood, 
Michael Rosen, and Fakir Musafar; in- 
terview with dyke dominatrix (and 
bitchin' writer) Pat Califia, submission 
fantasies by local performer Divianna 
Ingravallo. Very educational, with "The 
Practicing Pervert: Negotiation 101, "by 
Michael Decker. Considering how raw 
the eroticism, this is a pretty slick pack- 
age, for the kinkier coffee tables. . .on or 
off the rack. $5, 4/$20. POB 460122, SF, 
CA 94146. 

—D.S. Black 

American Dream 

Video. 1 hour, 45 minutes. Produced & 
Directed by Barbara Kopple 

American Dream is a gripping docu- 
mentary about the epic mid-'80s strike 
against the Hormel meatpacking com- 
pany in Austin, Minnesota. As a detailed 
dissection of the plight of organized 
labor in the current period, the film 
serves brilliantly. As a reflective look at 
the underlying causes within the union 
"movement" and within workers them- 
selves, it comes up considerably short, 
and the viewer is left to sort through the 
depressing outcome to try and under- 
stand why on one's own. 

The film opens with excerpts from 
early 1 980 's newscasts about the PATCO 
strike, bankruptcies and tinion contract 
concessions. Cut to meatpackers going 
door to door in the small company town 
of Austin, Minnesota — your quintessen- 
tial community in the American heart- 
land. Hormel, in spite of making a $30 
million profit on its bacon, spam, dev- 
iled ham, etc., is demanding the work- 
ers take a 23% wage cut, from $10.69/ 
hr. to $8.25/hr. — a familiar situation 
(see PWs lengthy account of the 
Watsonville Cannery strike in issues 15- 
19). Incredible scenes from inside the 
factory show the casual brutality of pro- 
cessing pigs into "meat products," the 
kind of footage meatpacking compa- 
nies prefer we don't see. 


A public speakout at the union hall 
lets us see middle class Americans (that 
is to say, workers) decrying the impend- 
ing wage cuts — one fellow reads off three 
different wage stubs from the past years: 
$690 a week, then $475 a week after the 
incentive/bonus program was elimi- 
nated, and finally $325 when the first 
wage concession took hold, and he's 
working harder than ever (sound famil- 
iar?) . It's clear there's no more room to 
cut if these people are going to maintain 
their vaunted American standard of liv- 
ing. In a kitchen scene with two wives, 
one is saying "I don't begrudge anyone 
making $30- $40- $50,000 a year, but let 
us live in our $32,000 house!" Hormel 
workers living in the surrounding com- 
munities with mortgages of only $200 a 
month are worried about keeping up 
their payments. 

Jim Guyette, president of Local P-9, 
voices over the obvious truth that U.S. 
labor has been taking a beating, and 
something new has to be done. Enter 
Ray Rogers and his consultancy, Corpo- 
rate Campaign. He promises to win a 
big victory in Austin, notjust for Local P- 
9, but for the entire U.S. labor move- 
ment. People's spirits rise as Rogers' 
charismatic promises strike a respon- 
sive chord. Rogers promises "experts" 
on political and community organizing 
who will help the local, while the cam- 
paign will attack "irresponsible" corpo- 
rate behavior through a negative media 
campaign. Additionally, the Corporate 
Campaign reveals the links between dif- 
ferent institutions that invisibly support 
the Hormel Company as it tries to im- 

pose the wage cut, e.g. the local bank. 

Kopple's camera is everywhere 
throughout the two years of the organiz- 
ing leading up to the strike and through 
the strike itself. We go to Washington 
DC and meet Lewie Anderson, director 
of the United Food and Commercial 
Workers Union's (the parent union) 
meatpacking division. He represents 
1 00,000 workers in 95 companies, and is 
quick to declare that "they're [P-9] not 
gonna win through the Corporate Cam- 
paign... it will cost them their jobs." We 
find Lewie meeting with a small faction 
ofP-9 workers who are unhappy with the 
Ray Rogers approach, and are worried 
about losing their jobs. They seek help 
from the International to try to change 
the direction that their local is taking, 
but the support for Guyette and Rogers 
is too strong. 

The main line of attack by Anderson 
and the International is to claim that 
since the Corporate Campaign is fi"ank 
about the failures of mainstream union- 
ism and vehemently opposes the 
International's advice to accept a con- 
cessionary contract, they are "anti- 
union." Lewie Anderson is quoted 
several times to the effect that "anti- 
unionism is oozing from the ranks," 
when the workers are loudly disdainful 
of his concessionary advice. The pro- 
International dissidents try to ask ques- 
tions of Rogers in a union meeting bul 
are aggressively ridiculed and berated 
from the podium by Rogers himself. 

Food support and money are pour- 
ing in from workers and unions across 
the country. A P-9 caravan is out raising 
money and solidarit)'. One can't help 
but be inspired by the energy and cohe- 
sion among the P-9 strikers and commu- 
nity. Even the conservative dissidents 
concede in a private meeting that people 
are at the union hall, playing cards, 
pool, talking to each other, and so on. 
"People are sharing... opening up... cry- 
ing... "Local leaderjim Guyette says 'The 
union hall has become a fun place to 
be — families come there." 

In the middle of the film, spirits are 
still running high, solidarity is incred- 
ibly strong, and Hormel workers from 
the nearby factory in Ottumwa are hold- 
ing a solidarity rally. A fellow says "I see 
forty guys and girls who used to look 
dead, and you've resurrected them to 
life! " In a crucial moment the camera is 
showing us an exuberant dance party at 
the union hall and Guyette is explaining 
how meatpackers who were "amateur" 
carpenters fixed people's homes, "guys 

F>F>aEZEaaEEJ LJjaF^h_C] 3CD 

who like to work on cars are fixing each 
others' cars — they [the workers] did 
what they hke to do — they did their 
hobbies. " Filmmaker Kopple thankfully 
included this exciting glimpse of a radi- 
cally different way to approach life, but 
seems to have missed its importance, 
perhaps because of her own political 
biases toward (relatively) uncritical sup- 
port of unionism. Here, in the midst of 
what became a crushing defeat, were 
the seeds of a radical break with the 
Economy and the wage-labor/money 
nexus: people following their inclina- 
tions and proclivities and freely sharing 
their skills without any concern for re- 
muneration. A further exploration of 
the psychological impacts of this part of 
the story is sorely missed. 

Seventeen weeks into the strike, 
Hormel shifted most production to other 
plants and management workers were 
turning out thousands of cans of spam 
at the Ausdn plant. Lewde Anderson 
knew that a bad contract imposed on P- 
9's workforce would wreck industry wage 
standards, but was more interested in 
getting them back to work on company 
terms. No International effort was made 
to mobilize support from other 
meatpackers throughout the industry 
in order to tip the balance in favor of P- 
9 strikers. Anderson advises instead "if 
you want a job, you have to take it" [the 

At the strike's 20th week, Hormel 
reopened the plant, and 7 workers re- 
turned to work. A spirited, militant car 
blockade circles the plant at 4 a.m., with 
Ray Rogers making sure that if anyone 
was stopped by the police, "no one is in 
charge here — there's just been a lot of 
cars breaking down [in the sub- zero 
temperatures]." Minnesota's then-Gov- 
ernor Rudy Perpich calls out the Na- 
tional Guard to "keep order," and soon 

locals who have been without work for 
anywhere from one to six years are scab- 
bing at the plant. After the factor)' has 
been reopened for 10 days, 75 workers 
have returned to work and 400 replace- 
ments have been hired. 

At an open union meeting, workers 
discuss the pressure they're feeling to 
cross the picket line. An older worker 
gets up and states what should have 
been obvious months earlier: "We have 
to shut down ALL the Hormel plants, or 
else all go back in together!" The P-9 
executive board votes unanimously to 
dispatch roving pickets to other plants, 
in spite of the worries that some express 
about forcing other workers to support 
them (they themselves supposedly were 
striking "voluntarily"). Other strikers 
were quick to point out that they had 
been forced to strike by the company's 
assault. 571 workers lost their jobs at 
other Hormel plants for honoring the 
roving picket lines. 

The UFCW International cut off $40- 
a-week strike benefits and ordered an 
end to the strike. In March 1986, the 
25th week of the strike, Hormel an- 
nounced the plant was full and no jobs 
were left. In June '86, the UFCW put 
Local P-9 into trusteeship. Quickly they 
settled with Hormel. They agreed to a 
contract that provided $10.25 for the 
scabs who broke the strike and no am- 
nesty for strikers. Ultimately only 20% 
of the strikers went back to work for 
Hormel. In 1989 Hormel leased half the 
plant to a non-union company who hired 
meatpackers for $6.50 an hour. 

In a (deliberately, unintentionally?) 
ironic conclusion, Kopple takes us back 
to an earlier scene of a rousing rendi- 
tion of "Solidarity Forever" at the union 
hall, while post-mortems run up the 
screen. Lewie Anderson was fired by the 
International in 1989 for opposing the 

concessionary bargaining position. Ray 
Rogers went on with his Corporate Cam- 
paign, conducting campaigns against 
Eastern and American Airlines and some 
other companies too.Jim Guyette moved 
to New York and got a job with a union 
there. One of the former conservative 
dissidents who crossed the picket line 
became the new head of Local P-9. 

American Dream is fascinating cin- 
ema verite labor history. Its strength lies 
in how well it takes you inside the pain- 
ful reality faced by each of the labor 
protagonists, from the workers' wives to 
the International representative. In 
showing the Corporate Campaign and 
the militant rank-and-file unionism of 
Local P-9 in such detail the film empha- 
sizes the bitter choices faced by workers 
and their unions in a brutal world mar- 
ket . As a document of a symbolic struggle 
and a crushing defeat, 1 wish the film- 
maker had included some reflections 
on what happened and why. 

Curiously absent from the film were 
any overt leftists. Given the socialist roots 
of many working class families in Min- 
nesota, I couldn't help by wonder if they 
had been edited out, possibly to appeal 
to preconceived notions of what would 
"fly" with middle America. In the liter- 
ary journal Caliban, Kevin Magee de- 
scribes a large mural painted on the side 
of the Austin Labor Center by P-9 strik- 
ers and supporters. In the picture, a line 
of faceless workers in colorless clothes 
enters a factory, which has a giant snake 
wound around it. From under the 
snake's bleeding head (which has been 
cut by a woman in a butcher's smock 
with a blade labeled "P-9") another line 
of workers emerges. They have faces, 
defined features, and wear colorful 
clothes. They carry banners that read: 
"International Labor Solidarity: Abol- 
ish Apartheid," "Farmers and Labor 

jE^ESjnoBErxtiiJLi juob: fit; jBaHcvje: urorvjB: F 



Unite," "Families Fight Back," and the 
bottom righthand corner has a picture 
of Nelson Mandela. At the top of the 
wall hangs the an anonymous quote 
from a 19th century meatpacker: "If 
blood be the price of your cursed wealth 
good God we have paid in full." 

But maybe there really weren't any 
leftists involved in the strike, and this 
mural was completed long after the film- 
ing was finished. I don't know. Ray 
Rogers is shown during a New York 
Times interview at the end of the strike 
(and film) trying to put a positive spin 
on the whole thing, refusing to acknowl- 
edge the fact of defeat. It is unfortu- 
nately typical of labor activists that it's 
very hard to admit a defeat and draw 
lessons from it. (See the earliest Pro- 
cessed World's #1 and 2 for a similar 
occurrence after the end of the Blue 
Shield strike in 1981). 

I suppose I should thank Kopple for 
sparing us academic or union talking 
heads, but why not ask participants to 
deliver post mortems? If the Corporate 
Campaign's claims to nationwide sym- 
bolic importance were accurate, surely 
there are working class intellectuals who 
might offer some analysis of the defeat, 
a critical look at the weaknesses of both 
the Corporate Campaign and traditional 
trade unionism, both brightly illumi- 
nated in this story. 

— Chris Carlsson 

The Productivity 

The Overworked American: The Unexpected 
Decline of Leisurehy]\i\\e\.^. Schor (Basic 
Books, 1991,121.00) 

No one would accept two daily hours of 
slavery. To be accepted, slavery must be of 
such a daily duration as to break something 
in a man. 

— Simone Weil, "Factory Work " 

Harvard professor and Z magazine 
columnist Juliet Schor argues that the 
U.S. is overburdened with ever-increas- 
ing work and that it's way past time to 
reduce work. She presents a great deal 
of interesting research to show the hu- 
man and social costs of the daily grind, 
but backs off from making any 
emancipatory conclusions. As lefdst pop 
sociology', The Overworked American is a 
schizo recipe of ideas. 

Schor's unhumble discovery should 
be obvious enough to most people — a 
speed-up of the social factory over the 
last two decades amounting to an extra 

month of work — but its a novel observa- 
tion for academia and the media, where 
all talk of work (except to call for more 
of it) is forbidden. Schor proves conclu- 
sively that there's too much work; not 
only are there more and more workers 
(particularly teenagers and women) 
working longer hours at more and more 
(low-paying) jobs, but professionals are 
also being worked ragged. 

Using government and business 
statistics, Schor shows that a huge 
amount of the work presently being 
done serves no purpose in terms of 
contributing to productivity levels. 
However, she still ties workers' gains 
(specifically, shortened work hours) 
to increases in productivity. This rings 
pretty hollow given the dismal legacy 
of collective bargaining. 

"We could now reproduce our 1948 
standard of living (measured in terms of 
goods and services) in less than half the 
time it took in 1948. We actually could 
have chosen the four hour day. Or a 
working year of six months. Or imagine 
this: every worker in the United States 
could now be taking every other year off 
from work, with pay." Putting aside the 
question of whose "1948 standard of 
living," there's some problems with bas- 
ing an argument for less work in terms 
of a producdvit)' level that by its very 
nature must expand exponentially. 

Schor calls the failure of working 
time to keep pace with increases in auto- 
mation and capacity a "producdvity defi- 
cit. " She argues that "we " made a mistake 
when we traded shortened hours for 
more money — thus trapping us in a 
"cycle of work and spend" which is re- 
sponsible for the current overload of 
work ("keeping up with the Jones," as 

she puts it). Although she demolishes 
the neoclassical argument that capital- 
ism gives people the work and goods 
they seek, by locating the source of over- 
work in overconsumpUon she accepts 
the same supply-and-demand argument. 
For consumers with diminishing pay- 
checks, she advocates Buddhist auster- 
ity economics and "less is more-ism." 

While Schor recommends that we 
renounce our share of the goodies in 
favor of free time, she is very concerned 
that productivity levels be maintained 
("there are effective productivity-rais- 
ing substitutes for long hours"). Even 
after an historical analysis of housework 
that shows that "productivity" as it's cur- 
rently measured is a scam that overlooks 
most work (because it isn't translated 
into wages), she considers productivity 
to be a sancrosanct category and a legiti- 
mate indicator of living standards. But 
production for what? For its owti sake? 
Shouldn't a discussion of shortening 
work time address work's social useful- 
ness? Nowhere in the book does Profes- 
sor Schor deal v«th the possibility of 
eliminating work-producing industries 
that are not only counterproductive so- 
cially but highly destructive as well, i.e. 
real estate, finance, the law, advertising, 
military, etc. 

The point of The Overworked American 
is to convince management that a well- 
rested and less-stressed work-force is 
good for productivity ("In the interna- 
tional market, what matters in the long 
run is not how many hours a person 
works, but how productively he or she 
works them") . Schor seeks nothing more 
radical than "a transformation of the 
corporate culture." Her proposals for 
escaping the work treadmill (overtime 
swaps and stuff) sound okay but pre- 
serve things as they already are, leaving 
us voxlnerable to the same old shit. So 
what's Schor's goal? "If a workplace re- 
form is done right, a company can gain 
loyalty and productivity from its em- 
ployees at no cost.. .It is clear that money 
can be saved if people are managed 
better." In fact, she boasts that many of 
her proposals are already being imple- 
mented by many "enlightened, forward- 
looking companies," including 
Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo and 

As overdue as a discussion of reduc- 
ing work may be, doing it in the name of 
productivity' and renewed competitive- 
ness is just bullshit. I'd feel just as over- 
worked at Schor 's six-hour day company. 
— Mickey D. 

F*F^OEZE5EiEE3 hJJI=IE=^h-El 3C3 


Surrealist Implications of the Chicago Flood 

"This isn't funny."— Mayor Richard 
Daley, 13 April 1992, in his first 
statement to the press on the flood. 

"As the offices emptied, there was little sense 
of the alarm or panic usually associated with 
major disasters — More typical was the hu- 
mor and even giddiness with which many 
greeted the unexpected holiday. " — Chicago 
Tribune, 14 April 1992, page 1 . 

"I feel like a kid getting out of school because 
of snow. "— a woman telephone worker, 
quoted in the Tribune, 14 April 1992 

I Any sudden end of "business as usual" 
ushers in possibilities for everything that 
is neither business nor usual. Every 
interruption in the "normal functioning" 
of government and commerce reveals 
glimpses of a new society that is the very 
negation of such sorry afflictions. Mo- 
mentarily freed of the stultifying routine 
of "making a living," people find them- 
selves confronted with a rare opportuni- 
ty to live. 

In these unmanageable situations, the 
absolute superfluousness of all "man- 
agement" becomes hilariously obvious. 
Uninhibited by the presence of bosses, 
supervisors and other agents of hierar- 
chical power, those who have rarely 
been more than exploited victims of a 
slave system begin to act like free 
human beings, relying — in many cases 
for the first time since childhood — on 
their own initiative, their own resourc- 

With the chains of authority broken, 
or at least in disuse, the wonders of 
solidarity and mutual aid are rediscov- 
ered as if by magic. Long-time prisoners 
of the insufferable workaday world revel 
in the inexhaustible pleasures of not 
working. Spontaneously and joyfully, 
those who have always been "bored to 
death" reinvent, starting from zero, a 
life worth living. The oppressive ty- 
ranny of obligations, rules, sacrifice, 
obedience, realism and a multitude of 

so-called "lesser evils" gives way to the 
creative anarchy of desire. The "every- 
day" begins — however fleetingly — to 
fulfill the promise of poetry and our 
wildest dreams. 

II "Poetry is neither tempest nor cyclone. It is a 
majestic and fertile river. "— Isidore Du- 
casse. Poesies 

"I knew there were big problems 
when we got reports of fish in base- 
ments."— Chicago Police Superinten- 
dent Mat Rodriguez, 13 April 1992. 

For an entire exalting week, with the 
whole world watching, the Chicago 
River had the city's central business 
district at its mercy. The rising of this 
tormented, much-maligned waterway 
revealed the fragility and precariousness 
of the foundations not only of a city, but 
of a whole society, an entire civilization. 
With the power off and the lights out, 
the unruly river showed us how much of 
what affects our lives is dark and 
underground and hidden from view. 
This "freak accident" demonstrated that 
the seemingly vast and monolithic pow- 
er of this society's repressive forces is 
largely an illusion maintained by the 
ignorance and disorganization of those 
who are accustomed to being repressed. 

In passing, the Great Flood exposed 
yet again the utter worthlessness of all 
bureaucracy and statism in solving any 
fundamental problem. The raging tor- 
rents of the river's murky waters thus 
brought only clarification in their wake. 

In a social set-up based on inequality 
and exploitation, "natural calamities" 
generailly victimize the poor. The Chi- 
cago flood, however, hurt only the 
prosperous and powerful. Businessmen, 
cops, bankers, politicians and officials of 
the Board of Trade called it a "tragedy" 
and a "nightmare," but just about every- 
one else had a grand old time. Many 
described it as an adventure that they 
wouldn't have missed for anything. 

Thanks to the flood, some 250,000 
workers enjoyed at least one extra day 
off, with pay, and many of the homeless 
savored their finest meals in years (with 
refrigeration turned off, restaurant- 
owners found it cheaper to give food 
away than to pay for its removal). 

From the start this "different kind of 
disaster," as someone dubbed it, was 
perceived by everyone but the ruling 
class as an image or symbol of their own 
latent urge to revolt. 

In the river's subterranean fury every 
rebel against unfreedom has sensed a 
kindred spirit. 

The river's refusal to stay in its 
manmade cage will long remain an 
inspiration for all who reject domestica- 
tion and other forms of unnatural 
confinement. In the rising of the river 
we recognize the eruption and triumph 
of all that is forbidden, outlawed, sup- 
pressed by the enforcers of a racist, 
sexist, exploitative, militaristic and eco- 
cidal Law 'n' Order. Like the Great 
Snow of '67, the Flood of '92 is a grand 
moment in the struggle to resolve the 
contradiction between nature and hu- 
man nature. As long as nature is 
enslaved, humankind cannot be free. 

An injury to one is an 
injury to all! The majesty 
and fertility of the river is as 
irrepressible as the desire for 
freedom. Dreamers of the world, 
dream like the flood! 

— The Chicago 
Surrealist Group 
May 1992 


',t . 


"Hello, how are ya? You 
have reached the Hoffman res- 
idence. I bill my time at two 
hundred dollars per hour. All 
my time. So knowing that, if 
you have anything worth say- 
ing, wait for the beep and leave 
a message. . . Hey, wait a min- 
ute, don't hang up, only kid- 
ding. If you are not mentally 
ill, contagiously sick, or a 
member of the Communist 
Party. . . beeeep." 

"Roger, this is your wife. Cute, real 
cute. Could you please erase that before 
I get home. I'll be late tonight, honey. 
The casserole is in the fridge. Just have 
to heat it. You can handle it." 

"Rita Hoffman's office. I'm away 
from my desk. Leave a message." 

"Hi, dear. It's me. Casserole was 
great, really it was. Those correspon- 
dence cooking lessons really paid off. 
[laughs]. Oh yeah, too bad you couldn't 
make it to the game. Rog Junior hit a 
two-run homer. You shoulda. . ." 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Hi, hon, it's me. Love your new 
tape. Really, Roger. Cjould you pick up 
Jenny at daycare? I'll be late again 
tonight. God, I hope you're home before 
after-school gets out. I'm counting on 
you, Roger. You ^z</ leave a message on 
my office machine saying you'd be home 
early. I'm counting on you. Gotta run, 
hon. They're waiting for me. Big molto 
meeting. Love ya." 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Hello, Mr. Hoffman. I'm going to 
leave a message on your machine. It's 
five thirty, Mr. Hoffman. We close at 
five o'clock. I thought we came to an 
understanding about this once before. 
This is the last time. I'll wait here with 
Jenny until six. See you at six, Mr. 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Hon, Mrs. Mitchell called. She left a 
message on my machine. I'm sure she 
left one at home, too — I mean on your 
own machine. You were supposed to 
pick up Jenny, remember?" 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Daddy, where are you? It's six 


C^F^OEIEaaEEl UJai=^h_D 3C3 

graphic by Hugh D'Andrade 

"Rita Hoffman's office. I'm away 
from my desk. Leave a message." 

"Rita, I just picked up the messages 
off the machine. I did not, repeat, did 
not agree to pick Jenny up. That is your 
interpretation. An expansion, really an 
expansion of our exchange of messages. 
I will not be blamed by you, by Jenny, 
by that Mrs. Mitchell. Do you hear me, 
Rita? Let me ..." 

"Rita Hoffman's office. I'm away 
from my desk. Leave a message." 

"Mommy, why don't you ever pick up 
the phone? It's six thirty. I got your 
message at school that Daddy's picking 
me up, but he isn't here. I'll be at the 
Mitchell's. Can one of you please pick 
me up?" 

"Rita Hoffman's office. I'm 
from my desk. Leave a message." 

"Hon, it's me. Roger. It's 
fifteen. Look, something came 


up. I 

have to be on the coast for that merger. 
Plane outta here at nine o'clock. I 
don't have time to stop at Mitchell's. You 
take care of it, O.K., hon? See you 
Tuesday. Counting on you; see you 

* * * 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Folks, this is Mrs. Mitchell calling. 
Jenny is at Protective Services. That's 
Protective Services. You'll find it in the 
phone book under California, State of. 
You still owe me a check for October. 
This is Mrs. Mitchell. 'Bye now." 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple. Start talking!" 

"Roger, how dare you!" 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Daddy, you were supposed to pick 

me up. I don't know where I am, 
Daddy." [Pause.] 

"Mr. Hoffman, this is Sergeant 
Beard. Call me at 642-8001 ." 

"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Damn, I hate that tape. I landed, 
honey. Hope this doesn't wake you. 
Jenny all right? Oh yeah, I ordered the 
car phone. Love ya!" 

"Rita Hoffman's office. I'm 
from my desk. Leave a message." 
"Mommy, where are you?" 


"Rita objected to yesterday's tape. 
This one is simple: Start talking!" 

"Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, 
where are you?" 

— David Alan Goldstein 

i='i^aEZE55EE3 LJJI=lF^h_D 3C3 





How To 

Enjoy Your 
Incredibly Inane 
and Stupid Job 
Now and Then 

Becoming A 


"If there's something you've got to do and a 
way to enjoy it, you'd be a fool to do it any 
other way. " 

Thomas Disch, "On Wings of Song" 

Hello, and welcome to the Creative 
Employment Opportunity (CEO) 
School of Employee Empowerment. 
The following techniques will help make 
it possible for you to actually enjoy a 
reasonable portion of the long and 

tedious hours you spend creating profit 
for other people. With regular practice 
and steady application of these methods, 
you should be able to turn to your 
advantage any number of work situa- 
tions that at best you'd rather not be at 
and at worst you despise down to the 
very nuclei of your blood cells. Please 
note: None of these techniques involves 
developing a good attitude, cultivating a 
genuine commitment to the company, 
or taking your job seriously. 

1 . Have sex fantasies (if you work in 
the sex industry, castration fantasies 
may be more effective for you). 

2. Go into the bathroom and mastur- 

3. Experiment with just how much 
you can make a personal phone call 
sound like company business. 

4. Make friends with the people you 
work with. It may not be a great idea to 
actually /w^ the people you work with, 
but having genuine friends at your job 
can make working there somewhat less 
fossilizing and perhaps even marginally 
pleasant. It also makes it easier to waste 
valuable company time. 

5. Impersonate your boss. (It is es- 
sential that you complete step 4 before 
attempting this technique. Failure to do 
so may result in severe embarassment 
and/or loss of your job. 

6. Talk about your life. This will help 
you remember that you have one. 
However, for the sake of your intelli- 
gence and imagination as well as the 
sanity of your workmates, please sev- 
erely limit the amount of time you spend 
discussing television shows. 

7. Have more sex fantasies. (Yes, we 
know, we said this already, but it's an 
important technique and is worth re- 
peating. If you haven't had a good sex 
fantasy in the last hour, it's time for 
another. Try the one about the 13th 
century French Crusader and the Ara- 
bian aristocrat.) 

8. Have non-sexual fantasies. Make 
up an elaborate imaginary world in 
which you are brilliant and fearless and 
noble and wise and charming and 
passionate and gifted and graceful and 
hauntingly beautiful to boot; a world in 
which everyone you touch is changed 
forever, even your enemies grudgingly 
admire you, and anyone who ever 
sneered at you finally realizes just how 

much they've misjudged you. 

9. Make faces at people you talk to on 
the telephone. 

10. Make faces at your boss behind 
his/her back. 

11. Stare blankly out the window 
(assuming you have access to one. If you 
don't, the wall will do almost as well.) 
Hold a pen thoughtfully and purpose- 
fully in your hand: done correctly, this 
will deceive your boss into believing that 
you're actually thinking about your job. 

12. Invent time-saving efficiency 
working techniques to give you more 
time in which to fuck off. 

13. Invent new ways of making your 
personal projects look like company 

14. Have even more sex fantasies. (1 
really can't emphasize strongly enough 
the importance of this technique. Keep- 
ing your libido alive is probably the 
most fun you can have subverting the 
dominant paradigm. If you're bored 
with the Crusades, try the one about the 
FBI agent and the bootlegger's lover.) 

15. Experiment with just how far you 
can push the dress code. 

16. Experiment with just how far you 
can stretch your breaktime/lunchtime/ 
arrival-and-departure time. 

17. Experiment with just how 
drunk/high you can get on your lunch 
hour without fucking up your position. 
If you are an addict, it will most likely 
have very limited entertainment value. 

18. Go into the bathroom and mas- 
turbate some more. (What are they 
going to do, give you grief about the 
amount of time you spend on the 
crapper? Well, okay, they might. If this 
happens, explain that you have stress- 
related constipation, and issue vaguely 
threatening hints about workman's 
compensation, rising insurance costs, 
and/or possible lawsuits.) 

19. Use the word processor to write 
letters to your friends. Use the postage 
machine to mail them. 

20. Find new and ingenious ways to 
annoy your boss that you can't actually 
be fired for. 

21. Have another sex fantasy. Don't 
be shy — you owe it to yourself! Always 

F>f^OEZEaaEE3 kJJaF^h_E3 3CD 


remember that you are a beautiful and 
unique liuman being, no matter how 
crummy your job makes you feel. You 
deserve to have dozens of sex fantasies 
every day of your life. 

22. Plan your evening. 

23. Plan your weekend. 

24. Plan your next vacation. 

25. Plan your life after the workers' 
revolution comes and you don't have to 
work at this stupid fucking job anymore! 

26. Plot the workers' revolution. 

If you feel that this lesson has been 
helpful but are in need of further 

assistance, please consult our second- 
level instruction manuals, How To Look 
Industrious And Responsible While Doing 
Your Own Creative Work On Company Time 
and 101 Sex Fantasies To Keep You 
Entertained During An Otherwise Tedious 

— Greta Christina 

Many thanks to Marian 
, Phillips Jor her valuable 
assistance, invaluable 
companionship, and 
really weird outlook 
on life. 


» ^ f > '% % ' ^ ^ '9' f ' ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ■^ x 

As long as we're slave-labor drones, 
we might as well take what we can. 
Following are some ways in which Mac 
users can appropriate software and 
computer use resources for their own 
amusement and gain: 

Fun with networked printers: Since 
printers are tied in to computer net- 
works, and those networks are net- 
worked, you can print on printers other 
than in your own office. 

Fun with mail and communica- 
tions: QuickMail will allow you to 
"attach" documents to whatever mail 
message you're sending. If you're at a 
large organization or university, you've 
almost certainly got Internet access. 
Using QuickMail's "Address Book — 
Special Address" feature, you can create 
your very own address book with Inter- 
net e-mail addresses. Then you can send 
mail and/or attachments to yourself and 
your friends while at work. You could 
even e-mail confidential financial docu- 
ments to your inside contact at a 
competing company. Fax software such 
a MaxFax will allow you to fax most any 
document to any fax number. 

Fun on file servers: It's remarkable 
just how forgetful, careless or ignorant 
system administrators and other net- 
worked users can be, even when it 
comes to important or confidential data. 
Depending on your level of access, you 
can move things around, copy things to 
your hard drive, rename files, or move 
folders inside folders. Fun huh? Some 
organizations (such as universities) ac- 
tually have file servers with shareware 
archives that anyone can freely copy. 



This is a short excerpt of a longer document. 
For the entire document, or more information, 
please contact: How Do You Spell It Produc- 
tions, PO Box 460896, San Francisco, CA 
94146-0896, U.SA. 

Time theft is common enough 

,_ on most jobs. When we come to 

^^^^ y ^^S / '^ work late, leave early, extend our 

^^j l(^C V / ^ breaks and lunch hours, conduct 

^^ ^ \ ▼^ '^^^i / S^ "personal business" on the clock, 

▼ ^ J^^* ^ j^W / .c?" we expand the time dedicated to 

enriching our own humanity. At the 

same time we make off with bits of crea- 

-•^ tive human energy, stealing it back from 

' W H. X ^'^ all-devouring machine of The Economy. 

To The Economy, most of us are no 

more than employees of companies and 

consumers of goods. The premise of this 

arrangement is that during our time on 

the job we will help create wezdth in 

excess of what we are paid. This 

additional wealth is the profit that The 

flyy -_ -ry g->i Ay Economy demands, in fact requires, 

AAjJ-<JtliVJ"A.Ajand it is stolen from us by design. The 

circle is completed when we buy back 

the goods that we contributed to pro- 





E9Lp6i!@ "msNm 

sold your life to bu 

How manf hows of YOUM Ufo havo boon ponnanoiitlly^wattid? 

Rodaim your Ufa! Join the Union of Tima Tiiiavaa! 


graphic by Chris Carlsson 

ducing in the first place. Of course we 
then pay more than the goods "cost" to 
produce, because the companies that 
pay people to make, ship and sell them, 
to keep track of the money, pensions, 
taxes, and so on, all have a "right" to 
make a profit. Somewhere between the 
bottom and the upper-middle echelons 
of business life almost all of us are 
toiling away in this web of absurdity, 
while OUT right to a good life is buried 
beneath more powerful "rights." 

During the last century there's been 
an incredible increase in the productivi- 
ty of human labor, to the point where 
we are almost in sight of self- 
reproducing robots. Since 1948, labor 
productivity has more than doubled, yet 
today we are working an average of five 
weeks longer per year than we were in 
1972. WHY IS THIS? 

It is widely recognized that the system 
needs an "army of unemployed," both as 
a pool of cheap and eager labor to draw 
on in case of a business upturn — or a 
strike — and as a terrifying example to 
hold up to the still employed. In spite of 
this. The Economy is actually an in- 
credible work creator. The Economy is 
a self-perpetuating way of "life" that 
depends on growth and profit. Human 
goals like good relations between peo- 
ple, deep and satisfying emotional and 
sex lives, or anything not reducible to 
economic numbers, are at best inciden- 
tal to our work lives. Having thoroughly 
streamlined industrial production, re- 
ducing humans to animate machine 
parts in the process, economic logic is 
invading every part of the globe and our 
lives. From the search for cheap biogen- 
etic materials in the deepest tropical 
jungles to the emergence of new prod- 
ucts and services such as "career coun- 
seling" or new variations on fast food, 
less and less human activity goes on 
outside the realm of the marketplace. 
Paid-for "professional services" medical- 
ize family and personal problems that 
often have their roots in the overwork, 
financial stress, and hopelessness pro- 
duced by The Economy. 

Time thieves recognize this dynamic 
and combat it every way we can. The 
most direct resistance available to us is 
to take back as much time as possible 
from the logic of the marketplace, 
beginning immediately on our own 

We need to alter the pace of work to 
suit our own needs. Sometimes we can 
secretly eliminate unnecessary activi- 
ties, other times we may pull a slow- 

down. Psycho- wars between groups of 
workers and their managers are essenti- 
al to gradually (or abruptly) changing 
productivity expectations. 

When we control our worktime, we 
can structure our activities to increase 
free time, hiding our efficiency to retain 

its benefits for ourselves. Why shouii.. 
our ingenuity strengthen The Econo- 
my? When such efforts become organ- 
ized across the boundaries of workplac- 
es, occupations, industries, and finally 
national borders, we will be approach- 
ing a new way of life in which people 
freely choose and creatively pursue the 
work that together they decide they 
want done — the only work worth doing. 

Why A Union? 

Unions have become ineffective and 
generally corrupt institutions designed 
to facilitate the sade of our time to an 
Economy over which we have no con- 
trol. They have failed to challenge the 
absurd and inhuman division of labor 
that has grown up under 200 years of 
capitalism. Unionism must address the 
bald fact that most work done today is so 
wasteful and harmful that it has to be 
eliminated, not simply reformed 
through improved or less brutal condi- 
tions, or even workers' control. 

Time thieves already know that their 
"real lives" happen outside of what they 
do for money, i.e. work. The pursuit of 
ree time and less work is a continuing 
statement about the basic uselessness of 
most jobs, and our need for greater 
meaning and fulfillment. Unionism 
based on specific jobs or industries has 

divided workers Jind often led 

to self-defeat. But a union of 

time thieves naturally unites kindred 

spirits across the artificial 
boundaries imposed by 
The Economy. 
A Union of Time Thieves 
restores the original 
meaning of the 
word "union." 
Once again 
it becomes 
a practical 
among individuals 
seeking a common 
goal — in this case the 
expansion of autono- 
mous time under 
our own control 
while on the job. 
To systematically 
increase free, creative time 
takes cooperation and 
collaboration, hence 
the need for a union 
of time thieves. 

Why Local #00? 

^ ^ Each zero has its 

own meaning: 

— The first represents the 


of most of 

the work we do 

for this society. 

— The second indicates 

what percentage of our time 

we are willing to leave under 

the control of people and 

institutions other than ourselves. 

Won't you join us? 

Combat the ravenous and insatiable appetite 
of The Economy which attempts to subject all 
aspects of human life to the dictatorship of its 


Union of Time Thieves Local #00, 
c/o 41 Sutter St. #1829, San Francis- 
co, CA 94104. 

^>JXJX^>^.^ ^ X ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ '^ > ^ ^^^^> ^ > ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ .^ ^ >^ ^ ^ 




Moms Don't Want Jobs! 

Two out of three mothers would 
choose to stay at home with their 
children and not work if they could 
afford to do so. But 40 percent went 
back to work within three months of 
their baby being born. According to a 
survey, a third of working mothers feel 
guilty about being away from home and 
60 percent say that child benefit pay- 
ments are "very important" — 9 percent 
more than a survey found last year. 

Only 15 percent of mothers were "very 
keen" to return to work, 40 percent 
"quite keen," 24 percent "not very keen" 
and 20 percent "not at all" keen. Even 
though a large number of women said 
they would rather be at home, half of all 
the mothers who worked believed their 
ability to be a parent was enhanced by 
the change in environment, mental 
stimulation and social contact. 

from The Times, London 

F>E=^aCEaSED ULiaPSh-Cl 3CD 


My life took an abrupt turn for the 
worse after I graduated from Miami 
University in the spring of 1987. A 
liberal arts major with poor grades, I 
couldn't maintain a set of accounting 
books, design hair dryers, or trade 
commodities. The help wanted ads 
didn't look very promising. There was a 
large demand for nurses, engineers, cost 
accountants, security guards, and little 
else. None of it interested me in the 
least, but I had to apply for something. 

A few small-to-medium-sized facto- 
ries were advertising for unskilled la- 
borers, and I certainly fit the bill. After 
I failed to get a job by applying with 
them direcdy, a "friend" suggested check- 
ing out temporary agencies. Another 
"friend" referred me to Olson Tempo- 
rary Services, claiming it has the "best" 
assignments. Olson had placed his girl- 
friend at General Electric's jet engine 
plant in Cincinnati and she ended up 
getting into GE's executive management 

Like most factories, Avon's 
workforce was composed of 
two classes: the non-pro- 
ductive managerial and 
clerk class, most of whom 
dressed like appliance sales- 
persons at Sears, and the 
workers, many also non- 
productive, who dressed 
like people who purchase 
appliances at Sears. 

trainee program. I didn't believe I was 
capable of landing such a position owing 
to a basic defect of character — a com- 
plete lack of the work ethic, at least a 
positive one. But at this point, anything 
would do. 

The nearest Olson office was in 
Fairfield, a Cincinnati suburb in the 
Forest Fair Mall, the largest mall in the 
United States, probably containing al- 
most as much concrete as the Hoover 
Dam. A monument to consumer excess, 
its developer went belly up and wrote off 

$1.5 billion- worth of junk bonds that 
had been used to finance its construction 
on a couple hundred acres of former 
corn and soybean fields. Its combination 
of highly polished marble, loud, abra- 
sive music, and flashing lights had given 
half a dozen children epileptic fits. 

Forest Fair Mall is Fairfield's largest 
minimum-wage employer, and Olson 
Temporary Services is strategically 
placed within it, right between the Jiffy 
Lube and the State Farm Insurance 
office. The mall's architectural style is 
"lowest common denominator" — as un- 
inspiring as possible, particularly if 
thirty cents can be saved, and Olson's 
office is a perfect example of it. When 
I walked through Olson's door, I noticed 
a small waiting area with eight people in 
the typical uncomfortable plastic chairs. 
A few of their occupants were leafing 
absentmindedly through People and 
Reader's Digest; some just stared out into 
space with dead chicken eyes. My 
three-hour wait was thoroughly horri- 
ble. Making people wait needlessly is 
the petty bureaucrat's means of exerting 
a modicum of authority over the power- 

Although I passed the basic skills and 
word processing tests Olson gave me, 
they didn't have an immediate job 
assignment, and told me to call the next 
day to check for openings. Being anx- 
ious to get out of the Olson office, I 
played the obedient, ignorant worker 
and left without asking any questions. 
This was neither the time nor the place 
to be antagonistic. That would come 

Following my instructions to the let- 
ter, I called Olson at around 2:30 the 
following afternoon. After being on hold 
for half an eternity, subjected to the 
drone of a "light rock" station, a human 
voice informed me of a potential assign- 
ment at a nearby Avon cosmetics fac- 
tory. The assignment would last for two 
to three weeks, and I was informed that 
it was considered "choice" because it 
didn't require you to wear a hard hat 
and steel-toed shoes. I accepted the 
assignment, which was to begin the next 
Monday, giving me one last weekend of 

Not knowing what the early morning 
traffic would be like, I allowed plenty of 

time to arrive at the factory that Mon- 
day. Olson had stressed showing up 
fifteen minutes early to convey a "posi- 
tive attitude." As I headed toward the 
factory, the gray-toned cover of early 
dawn prevented me from getting a very 
good look at the other drivers barreling 
down the expressway. They all looked 
the same: silhouettes taking gulps of 
coffee from spill-proof containers, look- 
ing for another radio station or just 
staring ahead while negotiating the 
umbilical cord between home and job. 
Humans are alone when they're born 
and when they die, and also when they 
drive to work at 5:40 Monday morning. 

The Avon factory sat on an expansive 
plot of land skirting two major inter- 
states. It looked more like a vast office 
complex than the traditional factory 
replete with smokestacks and water 
towers. Of course, most funeral homes 
also conceal what actually goes on 
behind their closed doors. 

The parking lot was already quite full 
when I arrived, with newer cars safe- 


How to sell your soul 
In six easy steps:// 

'11 M HW^ 


grapbic by deuce of clubs 



guarded in its outer periphery to pre- 
vent being scratched and bumped by the 
many don't-give-a-damn jalopies parked 
closer to the employee entrance. Proba- 
bly half of many employees' weekly 
earnings went out the exhaust pipe of 
monthly car loan payments and repair 
bills. Which comes first — the job that 
necessitates having the car or the car 
that necessitates having the job? Either 
way, it's a vicious circle. 

By this time, the sun was on the job, 
turning shades of gray into colors. As I 
parked my car I could see the faces of 
the people sitting in the relative safety of 
their cars, savoring those last few min- 
utes of freedom. Not knowing where to 
report, I followed the herd heading 
toward an entrance, hoping to figure 
things out without having to ask ques- 
tions. Like most factories, Avon's work- 
force was composed of two classes: the 
non-productive managerial and clerk 
class, most of whom dressed like appli- 
ance salespersons at Sears, and the 
workers, many also non-productive, 
who dressed like people who purchase 
appliances at Sears. Taking note of a 
few other confused people congregated 
ziround the security desk, I went over to 
try to glean some information from 
listening to their questions. One of the 
disinterested guards told a confused 
temp to sign in and take an identity 
badge, to be worn "in a prominent 
place" whenever on the factory floor. 

On my way to the assigned break area 
where the temporary employee orienta- 
tion was to be given, I took a long look 
at the factory floor. It was clean, 
well- ventilated, and amply lit. Its large 
south-facing window overlooked a well- 
manicured lawn. Avon certainly defied 
the factory stereotype. 

It was early October, and a produc- 
tion increase was in the works to meet 
the large influx of orders expected from 
Avon's legion of salespeople. From a 
business standpoint, hiring temporary 
workers to meet peak production needs 
makes perfect business sense — after all, 
temps receive rock-bottom wages and 
marginal benefits, if any. With that 
attitude, it should have been no surprise 
when most personnel departments 
changed their names to Human Re- 

Early in the history of this "modern" 
factory, the workforce went on a long 
and bitter strike that cost Avon a lot of 
money and taught its management the 
importance of minimizing the possibili- 
ty of future strikes. Central to this new 
managerial philosophy was the replace- 





ment of tenured employees with a large 
pool of temps who would be trained to 
perform an elementary assembly line 
function in less than fifteen minutes — 
and summarily dismissed if they ever 
questioned the status quo. The remain- 
ing tenured employees were, in the 
meantime, pacified into a state of bo- 
vine docility and quite frankly didn't 
give a hoot in hell how the temps were 

A group of twenty to thirty temps sat 
or stood around, nervously spouting the 
mindless chatter of parrots or appliance 
salesmen at Sears. Many of them knew 
one another, having worked together on 
other temporary jobs in the past. 
Others, such as myself, didn't know 
anyone and just stood around looking as 
dumb as the machines to which we 
would soon be chained. 

Everyone shut up as soon as two 
official-looking women walked into the 
break area. The first was frumpy and 
well into middle age, probably a com- 

pany person who'd worked her way up 
through the ranks. Walking a few feet 
behind was a substantially younger 
woman who, while looking just as 
official (i.e., hollow-eyed and manne- 
quin-faced), possessed the body of an 
aerobics fanatic who lived on yogurt and 
diet sodas. Her face was much more taut 
than that of the marshmallow- 
complexioned woman in front. I could 
tell immediately that the young woman 
was all business and saw her current 
position as a necessary evil to be 
tolerated only until something better 
came along. The older woman probably 
looked upon her current position as a 
career pinnacle, the fruit of twenty-five 
years with the company, something to 
brag about during Saturday morning 
appointments with the beautician. 

The employee orientation was con- 
ducted on much the same infantile level 
as the one at Olson: very structured, 
very authoritarian, and very boring. 
Among the items stressed was the need 



to sign in and out at both the guard 
station and supervisor's desk, to 
promptly return from breaks, and to 
display a positive attitude at all times 
owing to the large number of "dignitar- 
ies" who tour the factory on a daily 
basis. The orientation broke up after 
fifteen minutes, and we were split up 
into teams of five temps each. 

After fifteen minutes of "training," my 
team was assigned to a machine that was 
operated by a tenured employee behind 
a control console and watched over by a 
machine repairman. Our job involved 
snapping one plastic piece onto another 
as it passed our respective work stations 
on a conveyor belt to another temp who 
neatly arranged them in boxes. The 
assembly involved a simple pump that 
would eventually be attached to a per- 
fume bottle on another assembly line. A 

Snake Oil Video Brings You 
The Laugh Riot of the Year! 


You'll split a gut as you hear a heartwarm- 
ingly sincere speech about how business really 
cares for its "family of employees!" 

You'll roar as they tell you businesses really 
do compete, despite ail appearances! 

You'll pee yourself sopping as real-life execu- 
tives confess they're not really in it for the 
money, but rather to make America great!! 

You'll laugh yourself blue as a CEO looks you 
straight in the eye and proclaims, "Honesty 
is always the most profitable corporate policy. " 

"Even better than the Dan Quayle 
speech on moral ethics!" 

—Gene Shalit 

"Two thumbs in the eye!" 

— Siskel & Ebert 

'We're proud you chose our corporate 
policies as a model for all! ' ' 

— H. Ross Perot 

1-800-1 M SLIME! 

highly indifferent, late-middle-aged 
woman controlled the assembly line's 
speed and initially kept it down to what 
was considered an inefficient pace while 
the temps acquired the basic rote skills 
and machine-like rhythms to accomplish 
the task at hand. 

After less than five minutes, it was 
painfully boring and I was looking for a 
clock to mark the time until the first 
break, still two and a half hours away. 
The two temps sitting on either side of 
me were engaged in some inane conver- 
sation through which they could perhaps 
make things go by more quickly. They 
covered such well-worn topics as missed 
daytime dramas, planned shopping ex- 
cursions on the upcoming weekend, and 
anticipated purchases from the Avon 
Employee Store. 

In spite of the finite nature of such 
conversational topics, they were able to 
sustain their chitter-chatter for a full two- 
and-a-half hours until the final break, 
somewhere around 10:30, although I 
had completely lost track of empirical 
time. The temps sitting in the break 
area closest to my assembly line were 
acting like shell-shocked soldiers. The 
tenured employees didn't look any bet- 
ter, and in fact, looked shell- shocked all 
the time — both on and off the job. 
While earning almost double per hour 
what the temps earned and having 
slightly better jobs, they had the distinct 
disadvantage of having done it for years 
if not decades and wore the effects like 
fashion models wear skin-tight clothes: 
puffy faces, cream-cheese complexions, 
raccoon-like rings around oil-slick eyes, 
atrophied muscles, poor posture, de- 
formed hands. 

The temps returned from the break 
with the reluctance of cattle being 
herded into a slaughterhouse killing 
line. The tenured employees who knew 
what was in store were the last to come 
back, extending the break for another 

five minutes. I too was less than eager to 
return to that godforsaken assembly 
line, which was now being speeded up to 
a minimally acceptable production 

In front of each of the nine assembly 
lines was a desk. Behind each desk was a 
machine supervisor, whose job it was to 
see that production quotas and quality 
control standards were met. As long as 
everything was within acceptable pro- 
duction ranges, they didn't have to do 
very much, and indeed didn't do much 
besides standing around trying to look 
necessary. They didn't convince me. 
Sure, one of them would take periodic 
walks around the line, write on a clip- 
board, and occasionally inquire how 
everything was going. I wasn't asked, 
but wouldn't have told the truth any- 
way; they didn't want to hear anything 
other than "OK." 

By 1:30 I was working like a robot 
and paying no attention to the quality of 
my workmanship. Quality control was a 
luxury I hadn't the time or inclination to 
engage in. Frankly, I displayed the 
finesse of a drunken Russian coal min- 
er. If the correct fitting was made, OK; 
if the incorrect fitting was made, OK. 

With the buzzing of the end-of-shift 
signal, both tenured and temporary 
employees dropped everything and 
dashed for the exits with a reason for 
living that they otherwise lacked during 
the course of the working day. While 
leaving the Avon factory did signal the 
attainment of a degree of freedom, it 
also meant driving through bumper-to- 
bumper traffic, preparing the evening 
meal, washing dishes, taking children to 
sports practice, watching four to six 
hours of television, thinking about sex — 
maybe even going through the mo- 
tions—and falling asleep on the couch 
by 10:00. By 9:30, I was thoroughly lost 
in dreamless slumber land. 

Morning came around in much the 
same way it had twenty-four hours 
earlier, only I was more tired, two cups 
of jet black coffee notwithstanding. 
Arriving five minutes later than yester- 
day forced me to park further back in 
the parking lot and walk what seemed 
like half a mile to the employee en- 
trance. As for my state of mind, I didn't 
really have one the second day, most of 
which was spent filling boxes with 
shampoo bottles and jars of facial cream 
coming off a conveyor belt with the 
velocity of machine gun bullets. Falling 
behind within fifteen minutes of the 
beginning of my shift necessitated work- 


E=>i^nE:E5i5EE3 kJJCIB^h-a 3CD 

ing like mad to avoid being the "weak 
link" in the chain. I shouldn't have given 
a damn, but did — a major character 
flaw I hope to eliminate soon. 

This was only Tuesday morning, but 
the concept of weekends had lost its 
significance in my struggle to keep up 
with the mechanized beast. Unlike the 
two assembly lines flanking the one I 
was bound to, mine wasn't breaking 
down very frequently; it just kept on 
going. The two temps working near me 
had long since ceased talking and in- 
stead just concentrated on the task at 
hand, trying to survive until the next 
break. By quitting time I knew why 
Fred Flintstone shouted "Yabba Dabba 
Doo!" when his shift ended and he could 
get away from his drudgery. 

Once home, riding my bike was still 
possible, but I mostly thought about the 
job while biking and didn't really enjoy 
myself. Reading was entirely out of the 
question. Watching television was 
stretching my capabilities, but was 
made possible by having a remote 
control unit within arm's reach. I fell 
asleep by 9:00; my night was once again 

Early Wednesday morning, while as- 
sembling lunch (the food in the Avon 
cafeteria was truly wretched) and 
dreading my appointment with yet an- 
other machine, I realized that this 
couldn't go on much longer if my sanity 
were to be preserved. At the same time, 
however, the alternatives seemed to be 
equally unattractive. There was really 
only one alternative — another shit job. 

Wednesday morning actually started 
out OK, because I was pulled away 
from the assembly line and assigned to 
help a tenured employee construct box- 
es. The machine had broken down, and 
she told me to just act like I was working 
in the meantime. My holiday lasted 
until the first break, after which I was 
chained to the machine for which I had 
previously constructed boxes. This new 
job involved screwing lids onto jars of 
cold cream. It was another situation in 
which I immediately fell behind and had 
to bust ass to avoid falling behind even 
further. As luck would have it, the 
machine broke down again when one of 
the jars got caught in a chute and 
created a substantial traffic jam. After 
carefully listening to the repairman 
explain to the machine operator why the 
jam occurred, I made a mental note of 
his instructions. 

Only then did I notice the sexual 
composition of the factory floor's two job 

classifications: repair (men) and opera- 
tions (women). Because being a repair- 
man was deemed more "difficult," they 
were paid more than operators, who, 
while earning more than the temps, 
earned about one-third less than the 
repairmen. The supervisors were pre- 
dominantly female, but earned little 
more than the repairmen, who mainly 
stood around drinking coffee and mak- 
ing sexist remarks. 

Once the machine was unclogged, it 
ran smoothly — except when I sabotaged 
it by creating a jam. But this provided 
only the most temporary relief. I could 
only break the machine down for about 
15 minutes an hour without giving 
myself away to management; this meant 
having to work for 45 minutes an hour, 
which was intolerable as far as I was 
concerned. So as soon as the half-hour 
lunch break began, I casually gathered 
up my jacket and bag and took one last 
look around the place. There was really 
no need to sign out. I didn't believe I'd 

get paid by Olson anyway owing to 
some silly breach of contract clause in 
the employment forms. So be it! 

The first object I noticed upon getting 
out of Avon was an enormous oak tree 
towering over the parking lot. Perfectly 
proportioned, it must have been seventy 
years old and possessed a dignity denied 
to the people bound to the hum-drum 
life inside. I marveled that it hadn't been 
bulldozed during the construction of the 
parking lot, probably a concession to 
'70s environmentalists designed to pro- 
ject a "good corporate image" while 
Avon's products filled up landfills across 
the nation and much of the ocean floor 
off the New Jersey coast. 

As I walked towards my car, granted, 
I had almost no money and few pros- 
pects for getting any in the near future, 
but I was free for the afternoon — and 
that was enough for the time being. 

— Donald Phillips 







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PF^OEZESSED hJjaF^h_a 3C3 


As the dust of the so-called 
collapse of communism settles, 
it's become clear that this is 
only one of international capi- 
talism's minor adjustments. 
The last living myth after the 
death of socialism is the Free 
Market, or as it is more popu- 
larly known, The Economy. 
State-Taylorism in the East 
and Post-Fordism in the West 
are looking for new ways to tap 
people's social productivity, 
their natural ability to work 
together to produce for them- 
selves. It no longer makes sense 
to call this situation a "crisis" 
— capitalism is always in crisis. 
By its very nature, capitalism 
is a clumsy, precarious way of 
transforming people's natural 
social productivity into work 
and the conditions that ensure 
more work. 

The transformations of "Eastern 
capitalism" reveal the relationship be- 
tween capital and social productivity 
quite clearly. The stagnation of state- 
capitalism under Brezhnev was mainly 
caused by the rampant "exploitation" of 
capitalist structures by the workers. The 
Soviet factory had many uses and was 
extremely productive but unfortunately 
wasn't profitable. The buildings provid- 
ed shelter during the day and at night, 
as well as space for conversations, 
private tinkering, card games, and so 
forth. Factories organized food distri- 
bution through barter deals with agri- 
cultural enterprises (no lines required). 
They guaranteed medical services, 
cheap vacations, and child care. The 
factory itself was a source of materials 
for private barter deals (theft). These 
functions were only slightly disturbed by 
market-oriented production, which 
consumed about 10 hours a week of each 
worker's time. 

In fact, the factory was not a strictly 
market-oriented enterprise but an ex- 

tended collective household with the 
typically high productivity that house- 
holds have always had. (Especially in 
agriculture: 50% of all Soviet food was 
allegedly produced on 2% of all Soviet 
farmland — the "private" patches owned 
by agricultural workers.) However, the 
full use of this productive capacity was 
hindered by the stranglehold of the 
Communist Party and state bureaucra- 
cy—the only real capitalist structures. 
Maintaining a tightly knit workforce 
surveillance network absorbed huge 
amounts of productive capacity and was 
immensely demoralizing. And com- 
pared to control by the money system, it 
was so ridiculously expensive and inef- 
fective that its prolonged existence can 
be considered one of the "economic 
miracles of socialism" — no other system 
could have afforded so many idle mem- 

"Socialism" was a deal with capital, 
but never a workers' paradise. If the 
Soviet workers could have gotten rid of 
this repressive grid, its "productivity" 
might easily have risen tenfold. 

The current adjustments demonstrate 
that by the end of the '80s, even the 
Communist Party's extremely terroristic 
and debilitating regime was unable to 
extract sufficient surplus out of an 
expanding "swamp" of direct appropria- 
tion. The proletariat had become dan- 
gerously concrete, surviving in spite of 

"Socialism" was a deal with 
capital, but never a workers* 

paradise . . . To stop a 
proletariat that wasn't con- 
trolled by the Party (the 
real equivalent of money), 
that had not yet submitted 
to monetary circuits, and 
that would suddenly have 
been one of the richest and 

happiest on the planet, 

only a radical international 

emergency program 

would do. 

the collapse of gross national output and 
smelling the immense possibilities at its 
own disposal once it could pry the 
bureaucratic lid off the pot. Into this 
miasma of theft, corruption, shadow 
"economy," "stagnation," and "Brezh- 
nevism" (Brezhnev takes the credit 
without deserving it!), the authorities 
aimed the light of glasnost (Russian for 
transparence) and perestroika (getting the 
households out of the factories). From 
the perspective of the world market (and 
the communists have always operated 
from this perspective, beginning with 
Lenin's "Taylorist" coup d'etat), an in- 
competent, overpaid, and socially "en- 
tangled" generation of old executives 
had to be replaced by a sharper crew 
that would dare to cut into social 
productivity with tougher instruments. 

The Soviet Union was certainly a 
capitalist society, but not run on money 
(only its overall output for the world 
market was monetized, as the big mul- 
tinationals do). To stop a proletariat 
that wasn't controlled by the Party (the 
real equivalent of money), that had not 
yet submitted to monetary circuits, and 
that would suddenly have been one of 
the richest and happiest on the planet, 
only a radical international emergency 
program would do. The bureaucracy 
sabotages productivity for the workers' 
use wherever possible and then proposes 
the "free market," with the most dedi- 
cated of the workers as the new capiteil- 
ists, as the only salvation. For example, 
there has never been and there is no 
food shortage in the ex-Soviet Union, 
but all the old channels of distribution 
have been blocked by the bureaucracy. 
The drying out of the swamp is a 
necessary first step in the introduction of 
a system in which a direct connection 
between work and living is made via 
real money (U.S. dollars, at the mo- 
ment). Russian workers cannot pay for 
their living by working 10 easy-going 
hours a week and expect to compete 
with world-market levels of productivity 
like those of Taiwan or Japan. 

A monthly wage in the former Soviet 
Union is now about $12. How rich must 
a society be if it can keep its members 
alive, even on the most miserable terms, 
for $12 a month! There must still be 
reserves of "hidden" productivity! What 



we observe at this moment is a desperate 
race between the Russian proletariat 
reconstructing and rediscovering its 
productivity on a new basis and inter- 
national capital creating an archipelago 
of (initially subsidized) full-time capi- 
talist production to exploit their pro- 
ductivity. The problem is that because 
of active sabotage by the old bureaucra- 
cy, most factories cannot be centers of 
social productivity any more without 
specific efforts to make them useful to 
the market again. Russian households 
are extremely poor, small, and vulnera- 
ble, and even less productive than ours. 
The Leninist "deal" consisted of "giving" 

the Russian proletariat the factory, but 
"taking" the "village" (obshtina) away. A 
Russian factory always looked like and 
operated like a traditional village com- 
munity. If you now take the factory 
away, the Russian workers are in a real 
squeeze. They'll be out in the open, 
ready to accept any deal. This, of 
course, is what "international aid" 

If only an attack on the Russian 
proletariat were on the agenda, interna- 
tional capital wouldn't make more of a 
fuss than in past decades. But the 
dismantling of the Russian workers' 
power base correlates with decisive "ad- 

justments" in the West. Although there 
is a lot of social productivity ready for 
market exploitation in the East, it has 
vanished or become inexploitable in the 
West. This productivity is one of use 
values and is objectively "high" when 
everybody feels "comfortable." It can be 
high in a technically and energetically 
simple community like the South Sea 
islands, and low in the housing projects 
of the most sophisticated capitalist sys- 
tems. Even in an advanced capitalist 
society, the social productivity is always 
predominant, and must be. Simple 
czdculations of hours worked in the 
extremely crippled 2.5-person U.S. 

F^F^agZEBiaEa kJJCIi^h-a 3C3 


household show that 50 % of the work is 
done within it. Add services and deals 
among friends, invitations, small vege- 
table gardening, consumption on farms, 
gifts, the shadow economy, spontaneous 
cooperation in the workplace, unpaid 
union and party meetings, midnight 
notes and so on, and you can easily see 
that capital can only exist if most of the 
yNork — even on the job — isn't regularly 
accounted for. Capital feeds on the 
"social body" like a leech on a water 
buffalo. The subversive/instructive 
sense of a slogan like "Wages for 
housework" is based on this fact. 

Actually, if you look at use values, 
capitalism is one of the crudest and most 
wasteful and brutish attempts to make a 
living (and it has nothing to do with the 
desire to make a living, either). It could 
only survive because the worldwide level 
of spontaneous production was so im- 
mensely high that only the dumbest took 
capitalism seriously. Especially what we 
call the Third World was such an 
inexhaustible reservoir of human and 
cultural resources that the capitalist 
nonsense experiment could be looked at 
with a contemptuous smile. It accounted 
for maybe 10% of real human dealings 
on the planet (wage labor). 

Now this is over. People are seriously 
impatient with capital almost every- 
where. Two hundred years of continu- 
ous exploitation and sabotage of social 
productivity have put us and capital in a 
squeeze. In the West, for example, the 
reproductive capacity of households has 
been damaged to such an extent that 
capital must pay more for the upkeep of 
the workers than it can profitably afford 

The "socied costs" (caused by capitzd's 
own ferocious work rhythms), the repair 
bills for the profit-generators, have 
risen so high that the required wage 
would reduce profits to below bearable 
limits. The capitalization of real estate 
made housing costs rise. Health care, 
pensions, child-rearing costs including 
education, etc., have made industrial 
production unprofitable in the old capi- 
talist zones. Workers don't work enough 
and live too long— they aren't "just in 
time" like other factors of production. 
Only where the hinterlands supply 
cheap, fresh workers and provide acces- 
sible dumping grounds (East Asia) can 
material goods still be produced. Only 
where workers come "for free" can 
capital exist. Even if we work full time and 
pay for everything, we cost too much. 

But what if our social costs could be 
reduced to those of the new arrives 
from Russia and other points abroad? 
In a certain sense, cheap socialist work- 
ers are already competing with expen- 
sive western workers, although the fac- 
tories they will work in have not yet 
been built. One of the mechanisms is the 
transfer of capital: huge masses of 
money are invested in the special eco- 
nomic zones in the East (not all of the 
ex-Soviet Union can be made profita- 
ble), emptying the credit-markets in the 
West and thus pushing interest rates up. 
The "softest" western companies then go 
bankrupt, unemployment rises, and 
workers become cheaper. Rents, linked 
to interest rates, rise and skim away 
30% of a wage versus maybe 20% a 
few years ago. Inflation without com- 
pensation does the rest. At the same 

time, government's purse strings are 
tied and capital pays less into the 
common social pool. Reductions of 
social costs via wage cuts or state budget 
cuts have been under way in the West 
for some years now. There are cheaper 
workers available. 

It would be easy for capital to revive 
social productivity even in the West and 
get potentially cheaper workers. A 2.5- 
person household is very expensive and 
desperately unproductive. It seems that 
the highest social productivity is possible 
in a village-like, well-structured, "dem- 
ocratic" community of about 500 peo- 
ple. Living in such units could reduce 
social costs by as much as 80% . Capital 
would be happy to get workers at such a 
price; however, the problem is that such 
communities develop high levels of 
political power and independence and 
their members usually can't understand 
why they should work at all and pay so 
much. They become cheap but useless. To 
get them back to work, you need pure 
pre-capitalist terror (money alone or 
even the Chicago Boys won't do the 

In part, this will be one of capital's 
roadblocks in the East. And it could be 
the starting point of our reflections on 
how to ruin capital's newest and most 
global readjustment so far. The geogra- 
phical area where most of the readjust- 
ments will happen is the Rustbelt. It 
stretches from Northern California 
across Detroit, New Jersey, New Eng- 
land, Old England, and Middle Europe, 
along the Trans-Siberian railroad and 
into parts of China and even Japan 
(Japan's been aging lately, too). If we 
look at the planet this way, we can forget 
the old ideological myths of Eastern and 
Western blocs and national boundaries 
and just see empty industrial areas with 
groups of workers in different but 
interdependent squeezes, with different 
experiences involving struggle, machin- 
ery, bureaucrats, and "corruption" (i.e., 
social productivity). We recognize that 
life in this zone of destruction, roughly 
between 30 and 60 degrees of latitude 
North, could still be possible without 
further disturbing the South. Of course 
our criteria would be different from 
those of the current capitalist renovat- 
ors. Although we don't exactly love 
factories, even less rusty ones, and there 
is massive pollution in some of these 
areas, they represent a common possi- 
bility for action. They're empty and can 
be invaded and recycled. Workers are 
skilled in how to use them. The real 


E='E^[ZIC:Ea5EEJ UJaf^h_EJ BiCZ) 

graphic by Angela Bocage 

estate they sit on is mostly cheap, and 
the areas are centrally located and 
linked to railroads. Spaces are big and 
often ideal for communal structures. 

Instead of following capital's ambigu- 
ous offers of emigration, we could 
emigrate collectively into these spaces 
and link them to a kind of Rustbelt 
Archipelago. Then all workers would be 
able to travel around the planet from 
social] factory to social factory without 
serving in capital's army of wage- 
undercutters. Instead, they'd always be 
coming home. 

The Economy tries to impose condi- 
tions on us that combine the worst of 
both worlds — eastern wages and west- 
ern work discipline. The answer to this 
is worldwide collaboration on the com- 
mon project of producing for ourselves. 
Although we have better equipment 
than the Russians, they could teach us 
how to use factories in other ways. In 
creating the new industrial villages of 
the Rustbelt, we need all the social and 
technical know-how we can get. 

Of course, because food distribution 
is one of the instruments of political 
repression and social sabotage, we must 
also connect these Rust Spots with the 
surrounding farmland. Without direct 
control over food-production, the capi- 
tadist "joke" will never end. (Supermar- 
kets are ridiculous!) 

There is immense power and pleasure 
in social productivity controlled by the 
proletariat, or just people once you get 
rid of capital's criteria, and now is the 
moment to organize the struggle for it. 
Periods of adjustment are always risky 
for capital. There are "leaks" now, soft 

spots, and reasonable proposals that 
could help to put imagination on dan- 
gerous paths to action. 

In a larger context, the transforma- 
tion of the Rustbelt into a kind of Archi- 
pelago Pandora could end 5,000 years of 
patriarchal anomaly and neutralize the 
Northern domination of the Southern 
Hemisphere. Mining the Rustbelt can 
only be one aspect in the struggle 
against the patriarchal planetary Work 
Machine, but from the point of view of 
practical opportunity, it could be a 
viable first step in this big task. 

The Rustbelt movement is just one 
aspect of the planetary struggle against 
the stranglehold of capital. Cooperation 
with all movements throughout the 
world is crucial, but especially with the 
Southern Hemisphere (there are lots of 
rusty spots there too). The need for such 
cooperation transcends all barriers of 
race, color, income, sex, and nationali- 
Why not use industrial areas in the 
context of movements that fight for 
other than economic solutions to life? In 
many urban areas such movements are 
looking for spaces to meet, organize, 
and test new lifestyles. At the same 
time, there is an immense lack of 
housing space for the homeless, mi- 
grants, young people and the victims of 
the present crisis in general. Huge office 
buildings, assembly-line halls, ware- 
houses, storage areas, port facilities are 
theoretically available now everywhere, 
and capitalist planners can't offer profit- 
able proposals for their reuse. What we 
propose is a transcontinental movement 
that appropriates these spaces and uses 

them as bases for a new, matriarchal 

• Focus on three concrete projects, 
ideally one in the R.S.A. (Rusty State of 
Amnesia), one in Middle Eurusty, and 
one in the ex-Rust Union. 

• Create schemes for appropriating 
industrial areas: squatting, creating 
state subsidized housing, forming coop- 
eratives or public corporations. 

• Disseminate existing knowledge 
regarding the re-use of industrial areas. 


— P.M., Zurich, Switzerland 

E>g=HaEZES5EE3 LUaF^k-O 3C3 


Once upon a midnight bleary, while I suffered, weak and weary. 

Over many a quaint and curious program hacked of yore ~ 

While I nodded, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a beeping. 

As of something creeping, softly creeping, near my disk drive door. 

"Tis some malfunction," said I, "beeping at my disk drive door -- 

Only this, and nothing more." * 

Yet the silken, sad, unrolling of each screen of code downscrolling 
Thrilled me -- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before,- 
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, 
"Tis some hardware error clattering at my disk drive door -- 
Some errant bug creating an annoyance at my disk drive door -- 
That it is, and nothing more." 

Deep into directories peering, long I sat there, wondering, fearing 
Dreaming, doubting doubts no mortal ever dared to doubt before,- 
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, 
And the single word there spoken was a whispered "Qremlinsi" 
This I whispered, and an echo whisp'ring answered, "Qremlins!" 
Merely this, and nothing more. 

Back unto my keyboard turning, all my soul within me burning. 
Soon again I heard a beeping, somewhat louder than before. 
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something in the tape drive,- 
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -- 
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore - 
Tis a bug and nothing more." 

Swiftly I accessed the backup, when, with many a fart and hiccup. 
There wafted out some flakey Ravin' from the mystic days of yore,- 
Not a clue as to who'd made it,- no Escape key stopped or stayed it. 
But, determined to invade, it perched above my disk drive door - 
Upon a virtual bust of Turing just above my disk drive door -- 
Perched, and shat, and nothing more. 

Then this ebony doofus jiggling my sad fancy into giggling. 
By the crufty cartoon crudeness of the countenance it wore, 
"Though thy resolution's murky and thy animation's jerky," 
Said I, "Qrim and ancient Ravin' floating from this frightful bore - 
Tell me, tell me thy full pathname in the system's hallowed store!" 
Croaked the Ravin': "NEVERMORE." 

A Itw •xplanatlont of bits of obscure w*lrdn«is: 

Alan Turing (1912-1954} vvas a pioneer in modern 

computer theory and mathematics He was hounded tor 

his homosexuality until he committed suicide. 

A raster scan is a technique used in computer termmals 

and TVs to display an image on the screen. 

A Daemon is a computer program that is available to 

users but which they don't have to call (eg programs 

that control printers). 

A pointer error is a mistake In a computer program that 

results In extremely unpredictable behavior; they are 

essentially errors In writing or reading 

information in memory. 

A process table is a list of all the programs running 

on a computer. 

System files are computer programs and data which 

are required to operate the machine. 


Much I marveled this ungainly hack to synthesize so plainly. 

Though its answer little meaning - little relevance bore,- 

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being 

Ever yet was cursed with seeing such an image 'bove his door -- 

Qlitch or bug upon the windowed screen above his disk drive door. 

A software error - nothing more. 

But the Ravin', spouting lonely from the placid bust, spoke only 
That one phrase, as if its soul therein it did outpour. 
Nothing further then it uttered -- not a raster then it fluttered - 
Till 1 scarcely more than muttered, "Other bugs have flown before 
On the morrow this will leave me, as such code has flown before. 

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, 
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store 
First repeated and repeated as some dweeb trying to delete it 
Was defeated and defeated till his songs one burden bore - 
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore 

Now the Ravin' was befouling my glad fancy into scowling,- 
Straight 1 wheeled a cushioned seat in front of screen and bust and door,- 
Then, upon the dacron sinking, I betook myself to linking 
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous fraud of yore -- 
What this grim, ungainly, gnarly, gross, and gubbish fraud of yore 
Meant in grunting "DUMP THE CORE!"? 

"Prophet!" said I, "Thing of evil! - prophet still, if bug or daemon! - 
Whether programmed, or a terror grown from unknown pointer error. 
Freak, undocumented, in this office unenchanted -- 
In this shop by deadlines haunted - tell me truly, I implore -- 
Does this — does this machina hold a deusi -- tell me, I implore!" 

"Be that phrase our sign of parting, bug or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting 
"Qet thee from my process table, and my system files restore! 
Leave no icon as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! 
Leave my loneliness unbroken! ~ Quit the bust above my door! 
Take thy beak from off my screen, and take thy code from out my core!" 
Croaked it: "RUNTIME ERROR 104." 


hXICIE^k_a 3CD 



The Labor Movement has 
stopped moving. Institutions, 
primarily AFL-CIO trade unions, 
long ago replaced workers as the 
"active" part of the "movement." 
In the past two decades unions 
and organized workers have been 
completely outflanked by the 
widespread restructuring of 
work through automation and 
relocation. This institutional 
legacy of earlier struggles is in- 
capable of reconceptualizing the 
nature of social opposition; to 
expect otherwise is naive. 

What do we want and how do we get it? 

We want to take back our labor. It's 
ours, and we want to decide what 
society does! It is strategically disem- 
powering — dare I say "stupid" — to begin 
from the premise that our revolutionary 
activity must rest on our subordinate 
positions. Trying to get improved wages 
or conditions within an absurd, toxic 
and wasteful division of labor over 
which no one has any meaningful 
control is to pursue a future of childlike 
dependence on either rulers or the 
abstraction known as The Economy. 
What is The Economy? It is all of us 
doing all this work — a lot of it a waste of 
time! But the media tells a different 
story: we are chided for lacking "con- 
sumer confidence" and scolded for 
"hurting The Economy," or perhaps we 
are counseled that "it's bad right now," 
as though The Economy was suffering a 
transient medical problem that will pass 
just like a cold. 

Government as we know it is a major 
part of the problem, not because it 
stands in the way of business and the 
market, but because it offers them the 
ultimate guarantee of force, and has 
proven its willingness to act. Unions are 
also part of this. They have clear legal 
responsibilities, primarily negotiating 
and upholding legal contracts with large 
companies, ensuring "labor peace"; they 
cling to the law, hoping that eventually 
the government will change the laws and 
then enforce them to allow a new wave 

of unionization. They imagine that they 
will someday be allowed back in the club 
and once again enjoy a piece of an 
expanding economic pie as they did 
during the post-war period, when they 
played an important role in crafting 
U.S. foreign and domestic policies by 
purging radicals and communists and 
becoming ardent cold warriors. 

Labor-management cooperation suc- 
ceeds when there is increasing wealth 
to divide up at the bargaining table, and 
workers are content to exchange control 
over their work for increased purchasing 
power. Those days are gone forever. 
The U.S.'s much-vaunted "high stan- 
dard of living" — the trough at which 
trade unionism has fed its formerly fat 
face so voraciously — is sinking fast. 

Falling living standards are no acci- 
dent. The effect of expanding interna- 
tional trade is to gradually equalize 
wages and working conditions world- 
wide. The demise of union strength, 
attributable in part to the emergence of 
this world market with its billions of 
low-wage workers, is also in part a result 
of unions themselves. Union bureau- 

crats who have helped pursue the im- 
perialist policies of the U.S. through the 
American Institute for Free Labor De- 
velopment (AIFLD) and campaigns for 
"democratic unions" have contributed 
to a process which has already greatly 
increased "Third World" conditions in 
U.S. cities. 

The reduction of high-wage industrial 
work in favor of low-wage, part-time 
service and information work was in 
response to the equalizing forces of the 
world market. As capital flows to areas 
of optimal profitability, living condi- 
tions worsen in its wake, creating a 
two-tiered society that signals misery for 
the majority. It is a process that cannot 
be derailed by an "honest" or even 
"progressive" government enmeshed in 
the unforgiving world market. Union 
leaders who campaign for "jobs" are 
either cynics or genuinely myopic. They 
know as well as anyone who reads the 
daily papers that the wave of restructur- 
ing that helped produce this "downturn 
in The Economy has permanently 
reduced the number of workers needed. 

Today people band together as work- 

A trail of theft, protection raciiets and sordid corruption— the droppings of the job mariiet pimps iinown as 
"official unionists"— led to a ghoulish cul-de-sac: 

PE=M=ic::E5aEa tojoi^h-C] ^cd 

They had made a perfidious pact with the 

ers and t£ike action when they are 
attacked and enraged, or desperately 
frightened (and not always then). By the 
time they are pushed to this extreme, a 
large team of lawyers and managers has 
already been planning for months or 
years on using management's strategic 
power to increase control and profits. 
Workers' actions under union (and le- 
gal) control invariably correspond 
closely to the script being written by the 
company lawyers. 

Of course no one expects radical ideas 
from union leaders, whose primary 
concerns are personal survival, pen- 
sions, their kids' college tuitions, etc. As 
every wave of layoffs, automation and 
concessions hurls more people into the 
daily transience and uncertainty that 
increasingly characterize daily life in the 
U.S., union bureaucrats merely seek 
long-term guarantees for themselves as 
institutional players at the Table of 
Consensus. Any contract will do, as 
long as the dues keep getting checked 
off. Maybe they'll have to "tighten their 
belts," lay off a secretary or two. 

For these reasons a new wave of social 
opposition must identify its strategic 
concerns as distinct from those of uni- 
ons. Those that do the work should 
assume comprehensive control, through 
their own activity, of their (our) work, 
their purposes, and organization. 
Workers have to begin thinking beyond 
the logic of the system in which they find 
themselves entrapped. 

Time at the paid job is akin to "jail" 
versus the "freedom" of time after work. 

Work is war. If it's only a game now, it's 
because it's so difficult to seriously chal- 
lenge the power and designs of the 
owners and their representatives. 

Many people already pursue activities 
and "work" that they rarely, if ever, get 
paid for. In spite of the lack of "demand" 
for this "work," they put serious com- 
mitted energy into developing various 
talents, skills, or tendencies because 
their engagement with life demands 
it — the satisfaction of their full humani- 
ty depends on it! What if the passion 
that leads us to become musicians or 
artists, or to pursue "second careers," or 
"pay our dues" in the fields we are 
interested in, were unleashed to rede- 
sign life itselP! 

As the people who "have better things 
to do than work," we have to develop 
our sense of self-interest, in stark oppo- 
sition to the consensus for a "strong 
economy." Tactics to expand our free- 
dom RIGHT NOW will become clearer 

collective appropriation of the means of 
production. In other words, "taking 
over" this messed-up world and running 
it "democratically" is neither truly pos- 
sible nor desirable. A more thorough- 
going transformation of human activity 
and society will be required. To look at 
institutional solutions at the state level 
or its opposite, is to gaze into the past. 
Those ideas were born embedded in a 
division of labor and social system that 
has consistently promoted extreme cen- 
tralization, stratification, and hierarchy 
based on power, wealth, race and gen- 

If it is hopelessly anachronistic to 
believe in the possibility of One Big 
Union, or even a good government, 
how do we democratically organize our 
lives? What does democratic organiza- 
tion really mean? How come when we 
"talk politics" we don't talk about real 
issues like what do we do and why? How 
can we "freely participate" in a system of 

The target of a new social opposition should be a good life 
for everyone. An ecologically sound material abundance, 
based on non-mandatory but widely shared short work 
shifts at democratically determined "necessary labor," is 
possible right now! 

as we share what we already know about 
points of vulnerability, openings and 
spaces, creative obfuscation, unfettered 
self-expression, Utopian fantasizing, and 
living well now. Sometimes we'll find 
allies at work, other times the pursuit of 
our goals may need "outside help." 

Given the sweeping changes of the 
past two decades (computerization and 
just-in-time production to name but two 
examples), the fear of losing increasing- 
ly scarce jobs, and the thorough amnesia 
that afflicts U.S. workers, liberals, and 
even radiczds, it seems unlikely that 
social movements that break with the 
logic of the marketplace will arise on the 
job. However, such movements will still 
face the question of work. 


The French writer Andre Gorz has 
argued that the extreme socialization of 
modern industry and its reduction of 
human labor to completely controlled 
machine-like behavior has eliminated 
the once radical vision of true workers' 
control of industry and society. The way 
most work is structured in the global 
factory precludes the possibility of a 

highly socialized labor and creatively 
redesign the fabric of our lives at the 
same time? 

The marketplace and wage-labor im- 
pose a fatail break between our inclina- 
tions and duties. We are objects cast 
about in the rough seas of the market. 

What can you say about people who's motto is: 
"Proud To Be An Office Worker"? 



These ghouiish workerists attempled to pass themselves as living humans! 

Vincent Vanguard 

SECT; Wevilutionary Lurkers 

FRONT GROUP: Solidarity with 

the Industrial Workers of 


SECT: Laboriously Struggling 
Worken Party 

Mike Old-Doff 

SECT: Anachronist-Syndicalist 
FROI^ GROUP: "The Oiganizm' 
Organizing Conference" 

rather than thoughtful subjects consid- 
ering the zilhons of ways in which our 
Hves could be better immediately, and 
organizing ourselves to help bring it 
about. We are locked into "careers," or 
perhaps vicious cycles of underemploy- 
ment, unemployment and bad luck, 
instead of choosing from a smorgasbord 
of useful activities needing attention, 
from cooking, cleaning and caretaking, 
to planting and building, along with a 
variety of well-stocked workshops for 
easy "self-production" of essential items. 

Why isn't it a common discussion 
among people that life is so dismal when 
it could be so fine? 

Perhaps we can get something from 
Gorz's concept of dualism at work. It's a 
dualism we already face, but relatively 
unconsciously. On the one hand, there 
are certain basic tasks that must be done 
"efficiently" to accommodate basic hu- 
man needs worldwide — clean water and 
sewage treatment, sustainable agricul- 
ture, adequate shelter and clothing, and 
so on. On the other, are the countless 
ways humans have developed to satisfy 
themselves and improve life, from cul- 
ture and music to home improvements 
and do-it-yourself-ism. In today's so- 
ciety, this dualism is experienced as cin 
unavoidable division between what we 
do to "make a living," and what we do 
when work is over and we are "free." Of 
course, that "free" time is most often 
defined by the flipside of alienated work, 
i.e. shopping, or other forms of silie- 
nated consumption. Nevertheless, it is 
outside of work that most of us construct 
the identities that we really care about 
and that give us our sense of meaning. 

Calling what we do as work now 
"necessary labor" is a confusing mis- 
nomer in our society since millions of 
jobs are a waste of time at best. But if a 
social movement arises with enough 
strength to create new ways of social life, 
then the activities that belong on the list 
of "necessary labor" could ultimately be 
decided upon by a new, radically demo- 
cratic society. Once these tasks are 
identified and agreed upon, we can go 
about the business of reducing unpleas- 
ant work to a minimum, making it as 
enjoyable as possible, and sharing it as 
equally as possible. 

Such a new society would eliminate 
billions of hours of useless work re- 
quired by The Economy, from banking 
to advertising, from excessive packaging 
to unnecessarily wide distribution net- 
works, from military hardware and 
software to durable goods built to break 
down within a few years or even 
months. Hundreds of areas of human 

activity can be drastically reduced, al- 
tered or simply eliminated. 

Imagine how easy it would be to take 
care of medical problems if there were 
no money or insurance, merely the 
provision of services to those who need- 
ed them. There would still be medical 
record-keeping, but it would only track 
information for health needs, not infor- 
mation to be used for the pernicious ends 
of insurance disqualification or other stan- 
dard business crimes. Hospitals would 
take care of people, not process insurance 
forms, imagine! With the elimination of so 
imagine! With the elimination of so 
much wasted effort and resources, real 
needs become much easier to meet. 
Material security is guaranteed to all. 
(There's plenty to go around already — 
but thanks to the market most of us can't 
afford much.) 

With this kind of revolution the 
wrong-headed demand for "jobs" van- 
ishes into thin air. Instead we are 
overwhelmed (at least at first) by all the 
work we need to do to create this new 
free society — a great deal of it involving 
the development of many new forms of 
social decision-making and collective 

When we get things more or less the 
way we like them our "necessary labor" 
will fall to something like an easy five 
hours a week each. Our free time then 
stretches out before us with almost 
unlimited possibilities. Most of us will 
get involved in lots of different things. 
As people begin "working" at all the 
things they like to do, under their own 
pace and control, society discovers the 
pleasant surprise that "necessary labor" 
is shrinking since so much of what 
people are doing freely is having the 
effect of reducing the need for highly 
socialized, machine-like work. 

Juliet Schor has discovered some 
interesting statistics in her book The 


-iO\)\ I'M A 
LA\A)yffR SO 
1 5H0ULO 

The slindard creaky oral reporte on "sacririce" and "suffering with dignity" gave new meaoing to 
"Boring From Within". . . 


F>FMZIi::E55ED LJJCie=Sh_Cl 3CD 


stand-up comedian 

Dancers & 

AIDS Hospice 


Singer & 

Soup Kitchen 

& sex-club patron 

Overworked American (See review on page 
58). A 1978 Dept. of Labor study showed 
that 84% of respondents would willingly 
exchange some or all of future wage 
increases for increased free time. Nearly 
half would trade ALL of a 10% pay 
increase for free time. Only 16% refuse 
free time in exchange for more money. 

In spite of overwhelming sociological 
evidence of a widespread preference for 
less work and more fun, many people 
still fervently clutch the work ethic. For 
them the connection between working 
and getting paid, earning your own 
living, is deeply ingrained as a basic 
element of self-respect. This sense of 
self-respect is extremely vit2il knowledge 
for human happiness, but somehow 
capitalism managed to link it to wage- 
labor. They want us to express our 
self-respect through our ability to do 
their work, on their terms. We deserve 
respect, from others and from ourselves, 
but not because we can do stupid jobs 
well. When that happens our self- 
respect has been bought and sold back to 
us as a self-defeating ideology. 

Nobody ever does anything that is 
truly "theirs." Every part of human 
culture and daily life, especially work, is 
a product of millions of people interact- 
ing over generations. The fact that some 
individuals invent things or "have ideas" 
that become influential, doesn't make 
those breakthroughs any less a social 
product. That inventor's consciousness 
is very much a product of the lives and 
work of all those around him or her, 
present and past. 

If this is true, then what is the basis 
for enforcing the link between specific 
kinds of work and specific levels of 
access to goods? In other words, why do 

some people make so much more money 
than others? More interesting still, in a 
society freed from the mass psychosis 
known affectionately as The Economy, 
what relationship do we want to estab- 
lish between work, skill, initiative, lon- 
gevity, etc. and access to goods. '^ 

Obviously I'm not arguing for com- 
parable worth, or any strategy that gears 
itself to simple wage increases as a goal. 
In the exchange of wages for work we 
lose any say over what work is done and 
why; at this point in history we must 
redesign how we live, and we have to do 
it intelligently or we will surely not 
survive as a human civilization (it's 
barbaric enough adready!). 

A prosperous global society that is not 
dominated by a world government and is 
fun to live in, and doesn't require an 
abstract devotion to work for its own 
sake, is within our grasp. We have to 
think about the social power that still lies 
at work in spite of our desire to 
transform it into something quite dif- 
ferent. If we are not organizing our- 
selves on the basis of our jobs, how do 
we begin to make real an alternative 
movement based on what we do value? 
How can this new "labor movement" 
grow organically out of our efforts to 
subvert the current system? 

The unions, from conservative to 
"radical," still believe in and insist on the 
centrality of the work ethic. They can- 
not conceive alternatives to the work- 
and-pay society because as institutions, 
unions are embedded within and de- 
fined by that society. Radicals clinging 
to the security blanket of "workers' 
organizing" (especially in the hopeless 
direction of rank-and-file trade union- 
ism) are embracing a dying society and 
its obsolete division of labor. Why 
pursue at this late date the stabilization 
and maintenance (let alone improve- 
ment!) of a deal with capitalism, when 
it's clearer than ever that we need deep, 
systemic change that goes beyond mere 

Never has it been more appropriate to 
place on the front burner the classic 
critiques of wage-labor and capitalist 
society. The work ethic is a perverse 
holdover from the worst extremes of the 
narrow puritanism that contributed 
greatly to the founding of this culture. 
The compulsion to work — for its own 
sake and as an ideological cattle prod — 
is the battery acid that keeps this society 
afloat even while it leads to widespread 
corrosion within our hearts, relation- 
ships, and neighborhoods. 

Although I attack the work ethic, I do 

not attack hard work. Without doubt, a 
free society will be a great deal of work, 
involving both the free, creative and fun 
stuff, and a fair share of the grind-it-out 
rehabbing, reconstructing, and reinha- 
biting of our cities and countrysides. 
People are not afraid or incapable of 
hard, worthwhile work. Even the most 
onerous tasks can be made more enjoy- 
able. Many, if not most, enjoy work, in 
reasonable and self- managed doses. But 
few are able or willing to give that 
passionate extra effort when they are 
being paid to do a job all their lives. 
Degradation accompanies being left out 
of basic decisions about how you spend 
your life, and perpetually being told 
what to do. 

Most of us go through life without 
finding meaning or satisfaction at work, 
or if we're really lucky, we get some in 
small amounts now and then. The good 
things that happen at work in this 
society are almost invariably IN SPITE 
of the organization, its activities, and 
the way it's run. When real human 
connections are made and real needs 
fulfilled, that is the essence of what all 
work should be. Of course it will be 
difficult to feel that way about lots of 
important things, like tending toxic 
waste dumps. But society's goal, and the 
target of a new social opposition, should 
be a good life for everyone. An ecologi- 
cally sound material abundance, based 
on non-mandatory but widely shared 
short work shifts at democratically de- 
termined "necessary labor," is possible 
right now. 

The forms of our political activity and 
direct resistance must take seriously the 
basic questions of social power. It's 
pretty obvious who's got the guns and 
that they're comfortable using them. 
We'll never win a military conflict. 
Pleasure is our strongest weapon. Life 
could be so great! Symbolic efforts may 
be useful at first, but if we are serious 
about radical change we will eventually 
have to grasp the levers of power found 
at work. 
— Chris Carlsson 

"What positive steps 
can WE take to organize 

Who are 
those 500,000 people.. 

* genuine quote from organizers' follow-up bulletin! 




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